The Steelers are heading into the season with a different and younger look at cornerback.
Joe Haden is back and they re-signed Cam Sutton, but Mike Hilton and Steven Nelson are gone and the team didn’t make any big moves for veteran help for the unit. That leaves largely untested guys like Justin Layne, James Pierre and Antoine Brooks to compete for roles in the secondary.
Sutton is working on the outside after seeing most of his time in the slot in the past and senior defensive assistant/secondary coach Teryl Austin said the team is “letting these other guys work inside to see what we have.” For now, Austin says the team is comfortable with that approach.
“I like our young guys,” Austin said, via Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I like James Pierre, I like J-Layne. We have some young guys, a couple free agent guys, I’d like to see compete. Ability-wise, James and J-Layne have the ability to play in this league and be quality players. It just depends how fast and how far they progress in the next four or five weeks. I’m comfortable there, but I’m also aware if we have way to better our team and it happens to be an outside guy, I’m more than happy to have him, as well.”
There are a handful of veteran free agent corners available now and more will likely shake loose as teams make roster decisions this summer, but the best case for the Steelers would be for one or more of the new faces to establish themselves before Week 1.