Cameron Sutton

AFC North Notes: Browns, Bengals, Sutton

Several new defensive backs will see action for the Browns this season. Denzel Ward, Damarious Randall, T.J. Carrie and E.J. Gaines are now in the mix in Cleveland. But the team with the top bidding spots in the upcoming supplemental draft is doing its homework on the available DBs. John Dorsey attended Western Michigan safety Sam Beal‘s pro day, and Zac Jackson of The Athletic notes the Browns are studying up on supplemental cornerbacks Adonis Alexander (Virginia Tech) and Mississippi State safety Brandon Bryant. The Browns’ 0-16 finish last season guarantees them the first bid position in this non-televised event, so if Cleveland is willing to sacrifice a third-round pick in the 2019 draft, its move would beat any other team that’s willing to part with a third-rounder to the punch. Jackson adds that only Ward and Randall’s jobs look certain this season, with competition set to commence for the other three primary roles in the secondary.

Here’s the latest from the AFC North:

  • On the subject of unsettled secondary situations, the Steelers look to feature training camp battles for the spots that Joe Haden and Morgan Burnett do not hold. The main uncertainty here going into camp looks to be 2017 third-rounder Cameron Sutton, whom Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review notes could settle in at outside corner, in the slot, or as Burnett’s running mate on the back end. While the 5-foot-11, 188-pound Sutton would make for a diminutive safety, he did receive reps there during the Steelers’ offseason program, per Rutter. Sutton started at cornerback for four seasons at Tennessee and is the Volunteers’ all-time leader in passes defensed. Artie Burns‘ job isn’t certain, per Rutter. Neither is Sean Davis‘. And with Terrell Edmunds set to factor into the mix, the Steelers could sport some interesting sub-packages this season.
  • The Bengals made a late-offseason personnel change. Christian Sarkisian will join the scouting staff as a scouting assistant, per Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Formerly the assistant director of player personnel at Northwestern for a year, Sarkisian will join an eight-person Bengals scouting staff.
  • The tight end who serves as the Bengals’ Tyler Eifert injury insurance, Tyler Kroft is hoping for a long-term extension to stay in Cincinnati.
  • UDFA Janarion Grant may have the inside track to succeed Michael Campanaro as the Ravens’ return man.

North Notes: Vikes, Browns, Ravens, Sutton

At Vikings OTAs this week, they placed Mike Remmers back at right tackle, per Michael Rand of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Remmers finished last season playing guard, and the Vikings used a second-round pick on tackle Brian O’Neill out of Pittsburgh. Minnesota had UFA signee Tom Compton working as its first-string right guard during OTAs, per Rand. Compton has never been a full-time starter in his six-year career, coming closest with the 2014 Redskins, who used him as a nine-game starter. Last season, the Bears started Compton in five of the 11 games he played. Minnesota lost its most effective blocker, Joe Berger, to retirement and did not make any notable additions beyond Compton at the guard spot.

Here’s more from the north:

  • The Browns have made some adjustments to their front office and scouting department, and Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com expects that to continue. She targets the VP of player personnel decision as a possible turnover spot. Alonzo Highsmith, Ken Kovash and Andrew Berry currently reside in that role. John Dorsey just hired Highsmith, and Cabot reports Berry is safe from a change despite being an integral part of the previous regime. The Browns promoted Kovash shortly after the Sashi Brown regime took over in 2016 after he’d previously worked as the franchise’s director of football research.
  • Converted cornerback Damarious Randall will be the Browns’ starter at free safety this season, relocating Jabrill Peppers to strong safety, per Cabot. Gregg Williams‘ deep placement of Peppers, sometimes more than 25 yards off the ball, became a constant source of discussion and derision among Browns fans, and Peppers himself may be a bit tired of the jokes. But the Browns will now place him closer to the line of scrimmage, which is similar to the role he had at Michigan.
  • Optimism exists around Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith, who saw a strong season end early in 2017 because of a torn Achilles, but Jeff Zreibec of the Baltimore Sun notes the veteran may not be ready for the start of training camp. The career-long Raven is going into his age-30 season.
  • Additional Ravens’ timelines are coming into focus as well. Defensive lineman Carl Davis, who started nine games last season, underwent surgery to repair a tear in his shoulder earlier this offseason, Zreibec reports. The former third-round pick is questionable to participate in minicamp. Offensive lineman Nico Siragusa also had an operation this offseason. The 2017 fourth-round pick missed all of last season because of ACL, MCL and PCL tears and required an additional knee surgery this year. Zreibec reports the goal for him is a training camp return. As for Alex Lewis, Baltimore’s projected guard starter opposite Marshal Yanda, he’s fully recovered from the shoulder injury that nixed all of his 2017 season, Zreibec notes.
  • The Steelers aren’t sure where to station Cameron Sutton. The 2017 third-round pick played 117 snaps as a rookie after an injury delayed his NFL debut. Pittsburgh may be planning to use him at outside or slot cornerback, or as a safety alongside Morgan Burnett, Tim Benz of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. But he notes that Artie Burns and Sean Davis will still have first crack at their respective jobs, outside cornerback and the non-Burnett safety starter, with the Steelers still hoping for the high draft picks’ upside to show. Mike Hilton remains the frontrunner to be the Steelers’ slot corner, where the former UDFA fared well in 2017.

Steelers Activate CB Cameron Sutton

The Steelers activated cornerback Cameron Sutton from injured reserve, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). The 2017 third-round pick may finally make his NFL debut here in November. Cameron Sutton (vertical)

Sutton’s arrival comes at a good time as Joe Haden will likely be sidelined through at least Week 13. For now, Pittsburgh’s CB’s group is comprised of Artie BurnsMike Hilton, William Gay, Coty Sensabaugh, Sutton, and fellow rookie Brian Allen.

At Tennessee, Sutton was a starter throughout his four-year collegiate career, setting a school-record in passes defended along the way. Unfortunately, he lost about half of his senior season to a broken ankle. Had he left school after his junior year, he probably would have gone higher in the draft. His potential loss is the Steelers’ gain, however, and they’ll finally find out what they have in their third-round selection.

After trouncing the Titans on Thursday night, the Steelers are tied with the Patriots at 8-2 for the AFC lead. Next up for Pittsburgh is a Sunday night tilt against the Packers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Broncos, Murray, Steelers, Hill

The Broncos are under .500 for the first time since October 2012 and have seen their aerial attack sputter this month. They are considering benching Trevor Siemian for Brock Osweiler, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). Osweiler was once ahead of Siemian in Denver’s pecking order prior to departing as a free agent, starting seven games in relief of Peyton Manning in 2015, but has seen his stock plummet considerably in between Broncos stays. Siemian, though, threw three interceptions against the Chiefs and has now thrown 10 this season — as many as he did in 14 games in 2016. Paxton Lynch would be the more logical choice for a longer-term change but has only practiced three times thus far. Still, if the Broncos’ losing streak continues — and games against the Eagles and Patriots loom the next two weeks — it would stand to reason Lynch could see the field soon for the lengthy audition he’s yet to receive.

Here’s the latest from the AFC on trade deadline day.

  • DeMarco Murray has heard “rumblings” he could be traded, Ed Werder tweets. This would be an obviously interesting move given the Titans‘ placement in the AFC South and wild-card races and their affinity for ground success under Mike Mularkey. Murray has no guaranteed money left on his through-2019 deal. The Cowboys are reportedly calling about running backs after Ezekiel Elliott‘s suspension was restored, and Werder notes Murray makes sense due to his All-Pro season for Dallas in 2014.
  • Martavis Bryant has been informed he’s going to be part of the Steelers‘ Week 10 game plan, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com reports, continuing to squelch the notion the mercurial pass-catcher could be traded today. The Steelers have said they are not trading the fourth-year wide receiver, one who has another season remaining on his rookie contract since it tolled while he was suspended. Fowler notes Pittsburgh could get blown away by an offer but doesn’t see a trade coming.
  • Steelers rookie cornerback Cameron Sutton returned to practice on Tuesday, the team announced. He remains on IR, and the Steelers have 21 days to activate the third-round pick. Pittsburgh has six cornerbacks on its active roster presently.
  • Jeremy Hill‘s contract year is not going especially well, and the Bengals running back made an agency switch, Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports (on Twitter). Hill will now be represented by Joel Segal and Greg Barnett, per Owczarski. The fourth-year ball-carrier has just 113 rushing yards on 37 carries. He profiles as a possible trade candidate due to Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard being signed long-term. Hill rushed for at least 790 yards in each of his first three NFL seasons, which would seemingly make him an intriguing free agent despite the role reduction this season.

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/4/17

Here are today’s minor moves.

  • The Browns claimed offensive lineman Zach Banner off waivers from the Colts, who cut him despite drafting him in the fourth round this year. Cleveland made room for Banner by placing offensive lineman Rod Johnson on IR. Additionally, the Browns continued their busy offseason regarding secondary turnover by releasing former safety starter Ed Reynolds from IR.
  • The Steelers re-signed linebacker Steven Johnson and waived safety Jordan Dangerfield with an injury designation. Johnson initially saw his name appear on Pittsburgh’s cut list Saturday, but the backup will return. Pittsburgh also placed cornerback Cameron Sutton, a rookie third-rounder, on IR.
  • Jacquies Smith will move from the PUP list back to the Buccaneers‘ 53-man roster. The team reinstated the defensive end on Monday. A fourth-year player, Smith is expected to be a rotational player in Tampa Bay this season.
  • The Dolphins re-signed tackle Sam Young. Miami cut the offensive lineman on Saturday but will keep him around for now. Miami guaranteed Young’s salary, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald tweets, signing Young this week instead of next because an unspecified team wanted him. This will mark Young’s eighth NFL season. The Dolphins signed him to an extension in December.
  • Quarterback Jeff Driskel will land on the Bengals‘ IR list. The former 49ers sixth-rounder has yet to play in a game.
  • A starter in three games last season, linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin landed on the Jets‘ IR Monday. To replace the third-year player, Gang Green re-signed linebacker Bruce Carter. Now a seventh-year veteran, Carter played a depth role with the Jets last season.
  • Wide receiver Chris Matthews re-signed with the Ravens, who made room on their 53-man roster by placing cornerback Maurice Canady on IR.
  • The Falcons released defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman, who resides on the Commissioner’s Exempt list as a result of misdemeanor charges from 2016. While Hageman is on that list, the Falcons will not have to pay Hageman.
  • The Chargers claimed linebacker Hayes Pullard off waivers from the Jaguars. A former Browns seventh-rounder in 2015, Pullard started two games for the 2015 Jags and played in all 16 Jacksonville contests last season.
  • Jelani Jenkins was expected to start for the Raiders, but the former Dolphins linebacker found himself on the team’s cut list Saturday. The Raiders, though, reached an injury settlement with the fifth-year linebacker, Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports (on Twitter). Jenkins suffered a groin injury during the preseason. Oakland also reached an injury settlement with Jaydon Mickens, per Gehlken, who adds Mickens suffered an ankle injury.
  • The Seahawks waived cornerback Demetrius McCray with an injury settlement, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times tweets.
  • The Redskins reached an injury settlement with center Ronald Patrick, waiving the interior blocker from IR as a result.

Draft Pick Signings: 6/13/17

The latest draft pick signings:

  • The Steelers announced that they have signed third-round cornerback Cameron Sutton. The former Tennessee standout was a starter throughout his four-year collegiate career, setting a school-record in passes defended along the way. Sutton was one of two cornerbacks taken by Pittsburgh during this past year’s draft, as the team also selected Brian Allen in the fifth round. First-round linebacker T.J. Watt is now the lone Steelers rookie without a contract.
  • The 49ers announced (via Twitter) that they have signed quarterback C.J. Beathard. The organization invested a third-round pick in the Iowa product, although he figures to start the season behind Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley on the depth chart. During his senior season, Beathard completed 56.5-percent of his passes for 1,929 yards, 17 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions.