PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Consistency could be the key at cornerback as Joe Haden, Steven Nelson, and Mike Hilton all return with their eyes set on more interceptions following a league-second-best 20 interceptions in 2019.
The Steelers begin camp with 10 cornerbacks and will need to reduce that number over the coming weeks:
- Trajan Bandy, Rookie (Miami, Fla.)
- James Pierre, Rookie (Florida Atlantic)
- Alexander Myres, 1st Season
- Arrion Springs, 1st Season
- Breon Borders, 2nd Season
- Justin Layne, 2nd Season
- Mike Hilton, 4th Season
- Cameron Sutton, 4th Season
- Steven Nelson, 6th Season
- Joe Haden, 11th Season
Projected ‘Starters on Sundays’: Joe Haden (Cornerback), Steven Nelson (Cornerback), Mike Hilton (Nickelback)
Haden comes into his fourth season in Black and Gold. In 2019, Haden conquered the left corner making 59 tackles and tying for a team-best five interceptions with safety Minkah Fitzpatrick.
Following seven seasons in Cleveland, Haden has made a new home in Pittsburgh and will look to lead the Steelers defensive backs in 2020.
Last season, Nelson joined the Steelers after five years in Kansas City. He posted 57 tackles, eight pass deflections, and snagged one interception at right corner. Standing at 5’11”, 194-lbs., Nelson has a nimble form which helps in his defense against the league’s top wideouts.
The Haden/Nelson combination should continue to build off their work together in 2019.
The Steelers will use a nickelback and for the fourth straight year it’ll be Hilton. In the last three seasons, Hilton has played in all but one game, that coming in 2018. Last season, he had 53 tackles, 1.5 sacks and 11 pass deflections.
He will round out the Steelers defensive back starters group.
Reserves: Cameron Sutton (Cornerback) and Trajan Bandy (Cornerback)
Sutton will likely see a lot of time after playing in all 16 games last year. He had 13 solo tackles, five pass deflections, and one interception. Sutton should be coach Mike Tomlin’s first option for reserve at the cornerback position.
Bandy has moved up on the projected reserves list after Justin Layne was put on the COVID-19 list earlier this week.
Bandy, an undrafted free agent rookie, could make a push for this spot after his three-year career with Miami (Fla).
In 2018, Bandy made 36 tackles and had three interceptions for the Hurricanes. The 5’9” 186-lb. corner also had one interception returned for a touchdown in his freshman year.
Battling for a Spot: Alexander Myres (Cornerback)
It would be a long-shot for Myres to find a spot on the 53-man roster, however, with the uncertainty in Layne and rookie Bandy not having a lot of time to prove himself without pre-season games, Myres might make a push in camp.
At 5’11” 192-lbs, the former Houston Cougar is young and hungry after signing a futures contract in December 2019.
Could Myres be the right fit if Layne is out longer than expected? Will Tomlin even keep a sixth corner?
Only the month of August and workouts will provide answers as training camp continues at Heinz Field.
COVID-19 List: Arrion Springs (Cornerback) and Justin Layne (Cornerback)
Two Steelers are on the COVID-19 list which was created by the NFL in 2020 for players who fall ill with the virus, have been in contact with an individual who has shown symptoms, or contract the virus themselves.
Springs was named to the list on July 27 and teammate cornerback Justin Layne was placed on the list July 29.
No further information on the status of these players has been released.
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