"What is more special than being versatile. I never want to be a stationary guy."
Those words uttered by cornerback Cameron Sutton are ones he stands by. Words that have kept him motivated through his first four seasons in the NFL as he has moved all around in the secondary, from nickel, to outside corner, to safety, you name it, he has done it.
"Why be a stationary target when you can be a moving target," said Sutton. "Why limit your opportunity when you can maximize your opportunity. It's not just about wanting it for myself. I am trying to put myself in the best situation to make plays for the team. We have 10 other guys out there hungry and willing and ready to make the same plays. That is why the defense has been successful. No one cares about their numbers. It's about the excitement we have being out there whipping the guy across from us and coming out with a win. That is our drive. That is what drives me. That drives our organization and defense. We are continuing to build off of that."
It's that versatility that created a value for Sutton that had the Steelers re-sign the free agent to a two-year contract this offseason, staying in the place he loves. Sutton was selected by the Steelers in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft, and he didn't want to go anywhere.
"It means everything. It truly means everything," said Sutton of re-signing. "The organization, it's not like you come into a new place not knowing. We are talking about an organization that drafted me. Them having the confidence, support and belief in me, my work and the character and type of person I am. To bring me into such a prestigious organization. I am forever indebted and grateful to them for this opportunity.
"It's nothing that I could have imagined as a young kid living this dream. I can truly say I am able to do that and to continue to do that in Pittsburgh is special. The free agent process wasn't overwhelming. Everything fell into line like it should. Everything I wanted for my family fell into line. Having that support behind you, to continue to build, compete at a high level and bring more Super Bowls to the organization. We have the guys in the building to achieve that. We're looking to continue to build and ultimately go get the big success."
Take a look at photographs of Steelers CB Cameron Sutton from the 2020 season
There is something else Sutton is ready to go and get. And that is a starting spot. With the release of Steven Nelson and the departure of Mike Hilton via free agency, the window is wide open for Sutton to earn the starting role on the right side, opposite of Joe Haden.
"No question. I'm coming for it all. I am definitely coming for it all," said Sutton. "That is just the competitive edge in me. An opportunity presented itself, and I am embracing that and ready to step into that role and give everything I can and will to help this organization. I just want to keep this thing rolling.
"I am excited for the guys we have in the building that I go to work with every day. We are able to continue that bond that carries the fight on the field. You do all of the work and build relationships and that is what carries the team. We are going to continue to get closer, add new pieces and continue to put ourselves in the best situation to win."
Sutton is coming off his best season, stepping up big in 2020 while playing in all 16 games and starting six. He finished the 2020 season with 29 tackles, 26 of them solo stops, with eight pass defenses, three forced fumbles, a sack, an interception and a fumble recovery.
"It was creating more opportunities for myself," said Sutton. "That goes back to the versatility. Who is to say I would have had the same breakout season, but you can't necessarily do that in one spot and say he just plays corner, only has an impact on the left side of the field or the right side of the field. I want to affect the field in every way possible, inside, outside.
"We are all about winning. I am all about winning. I want to challenge myself for those situations. I want to step up and make that play. I want to end a drive for us. I am built for that pressure. I want to continue to show that to the organization and the league."
Sutton had a streak where he had a forced fumble in three straight games last season, including Week 8 at Baltimore, Week 9 at Dallas and Week 10 vs. Cincinnati. Creating turnovers is something he loves, because he knows it can change the flow of the game.
"That is exciting, so exciting," said Sutton. "Knowing you can do it and it's your opportunity. All of the work leading up to the moments, you don't think about it. But practicing those techniques are things we work on. Seeing the reps come to fruition, that is a testament to being consistent and a product of the work I put in. Good things happen when you are flying around, when you are around the ball, when you don't have highs and lows. You come ready to compete and get better and you will. You will see your game elevate.
"I always live by this. My college coach told me 'the football gods will reward you if you live right.' I always go by that, on and off the field. Handle your business, how you carry yourself. I always live by that. Being the person people can come to for anything. I might not know every answer, but you can talk to me, you can express and be yourself. I have always been that person to let people express that. It's so much more enjoyable to do it with people in the organization and everyone we encounter around us. That is how we touch people in the world. That is how you create your impact, that is your true impact."
It's that mindset, one where making an impact any way he can, that has helped Sutton throughout his career. He attacks things head on, and doesn't just rely on physical talents, but also the mental aspect of the game is big for him.
"The game is not just played within the lines, run left, run right," said Sutton. "It's scheme, knowledge, putting parts where they are supposed to be. Having the knowledge of that, not putting yourself in a box. Having the versatility of knowing what is going on around you. You can't be locked into only what you are doing. You have to understand and embrace that first. But it makes the game easier, slows it down, when you know what is going on around you, where guys are, use the defense, the scheme, the rotation, a guy's body presence. You know that from watching film. It's an offensive game and it's only getting better on that end with the athletes we are facing. We have to be able to handle that as a defense. We are in the react mode as a defense to begin with. If I know what you are doing on the field, I am going to be in a better situation to make the play.
"I use the knowledge I gain in the film room about players, all the things you take into account to sharpen my tools so I am ready to make a play and then good things happen for you."