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Thread: Sutton Smith

  1. #111
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steel Maniac View Post
    Asked and Answered: May 9

    Bob Labriola
    STEELERS.COM

    Let’s get to it:

    JERRY AVERS FROM LANCASTER, PA: Is the running back position going to be an open competition since we added possibly a better one in the draft?

    ANSWER: I don’t understand why you have such a low opinion of James Conner, but allow me to refresh your memory with some statistics: In 2018, his second NFL season, Conner rushed for 973 yards and averaged 4.5 per carry doing it; he also caught passes for another 497 yards, which gave him 1,470 yards from scrimmage; and in addition he scored 13 touchdowns. To put this into further perspective, this is a list of the NFL running backs who finished with more yards from scrimmage in 2018 than Conner: Saquon Barkley, Ezekiel Elliott, Christian McCaffrey, Todd Gurley, and Alvin Kamara. The one negative that can be associated with Conner’s performance in 2018 was his four fumbles, and if that continues to be an issue for him, well, suffice it to say he would discover that Coach Mike Tomlin doesn’t have a bottomless well of patience for running backs who cannot hold onto the football. But as of right now, James Conner is entering his third NFL season, and he has improved consistently over that time. If Benny Snell Jr. can find a way to carve out a complementary role as a rookie, the Steelers backfield – Conner, Jaylen Samuels, Snell, and fullback Rosie Nix – could be a real force during the 2019 season.

    TYLER SEAMSTER FROM NEW HOPE, VA: With Joe Haden approaching his final year of his deal, has there been any talks of an extension?

    ANSWER: I don’t believe the Steelers have sufficient salary cap space left to do an extension for Joe Haden this summer, but I also believe the team values him for his play on the field and for the calming influence and leadership he contributes to a secondary made up of mostly younger players. I also believe this: Haden came into the league as a top 10 pick and as a result has been paid top dollar throughout his NFL career, and so at this point the most important thing to him is the winning and annually competing for a championship. Not that the Steelers would suddenly offer him nothing but the veteran minimum, nor would Haden give up fair compensation to stay here, but this seems to be the kind of arrangement that both sides are interested in maintaining. Maybe I’m delusional, but I wouldn’t be really worried if there was no extension for Haden this summer, because the Steelers value him and he likes playing here. As long as that remains the case, the other stuff will get worked out.

    BRIAN FIORE FROM MARINETTE, WI: My question regards position switches like the one mentioned for Sutton Smith. How does switching Sutton Smith from college defensive end to NFL linebacker fit into what you stated in the May 7 installment of Asked and Answered? Are the positions so similar that there are only subtle nuances to be learned?

    ANSWER: In many instances, it’s best to focus more on the job description of the respective positions than the names of the positions when trying to determine if a “position switch” is realistic for a player going from college to the NFL. In the case of Sutton Smith, one of his primary assignments at Northern Illinois was rushing the passer, and he finished his three seasons as a player there with 30 sacks and 58 tackles for loss. After the Steelers picked him, defensive coordinator Keith Butler immediately referred to Smith’s ability as a pass-rusher and how the Steelers will utilize him there as they’re in the process of finding out what else he can do well. What is being discussed with Sutton Smith, in my mind, is less of a position switch and more of a defining of a role.

    VAILLARD ULISEE FROM MEXICO CITY, MEXICO: When the team declines the fifth-year option on a player, as happened with Artie Burns, is a further drop in performance expected during the player’s last year with team? And is the decision not to extend the contract final?

    ANSWER: The act of declining the fifth-year option happens when the team perceives the player’s performance through his first four seasons in the NFL as not reflective of the amount of money that player would be guaranteed by exercising the fifth-year option. As an example, Bud Dupree’s fifth-year option will pay him $9.232 million in 2019, and that amount now is guaranteed. The Steelers still are trying to turn Burns around, find some way to make him the kind of player they envisioned when they made him a No. 1 pick. If that doesn’t happen, Burns can become an unrestricted free agent in March 2020. If Burns has a turnaround season in 2019, the Steelers would be able to try to negotiate something long-term with him after the season ends.

    ELBERT BEATTY FROM CLEAR BROOK, VA: I wanted to schedule some days off from work to come to training camp, but I want to be there when they’re in pads and hitting. Any idea?

    ANSWER: I’m going to take a shot at guessing for you, but I do so with a warning that I’m guessing. Teams are permitted to open their training camps 15 days before their preseason openers, and since the Steelers preseason opener is on Friday, Aug. 9, my prediction would be that players will report to Saint Vincent College on Thursday, Aug. 25. Then the CBA also mandates two acclimation days, which call for padless practices. If that scenario holds true, the first day in pads for the Steelers this summer would be Sunday, July 28. Based on that, my suggestion would be for you to look at dates starting with Wednesday, July 31 and going through Sunday, Aug. 4, with the understanding that Friday, Aug. 2 could be Friday Night Lights, which is the annual night practice at Latrobe Stadium. Or, you could play it safe and wait for the training camp schedule to be released, which will be in early July, on Steelers.com.

    MIKE FEDERICO FROM MEMPHIS, TN: Steelers President Art Rooney II stated that the 2018 Steelers lacked even an average kicking game. With that being the case, how and when do you think the team will address that weakness?

    ANSWER: Your assumption seems to be that the only way to address that issue is by changing the personnel, which isn’t the way I see the Steelers perceiving the issue. In 2017, Chris Boswell converted 92.1 percent of his field goals, including 4-for-4 from 50-plus yards out, on the way to scoring 142 points and winning several games for the team with clutch kicks in the final seconds. So, you’re just cutting him now? I see the more prescient course of action being to have him compete through training camp and the preseason and see if he gets his stroke back. If not, then a change might be necessary, and based on what Matt McCrane did in the regular season finale against the Bengals, I believe the Steelers think he can provide that competition and then be a representative replacement should Boswell falter during the competition.

    JOSIAH ROMAN FROM CHICAGO, IL: What are the odds that the Steelers go out and trade for a big-name talent to fill a need at positions like safety and tight end?
    ANSWER: First of all, it’s your assessment that the Steelers have needs to fill at safety and tight end, because as the draft ended Coach Mike Tomlin said this when asked about the numbers at safety: “We're comfortable with the number of people that we have working. We're also comfortable with the versatility of some of the corners. You've seen Cam Sutton play some safety. You've seen Mike Hilton play safety on our football team in the past. I'm sure there are others who are capable as well. So, we're comfortable, not only with our numbers, but with the flexibility of others who may not be ‘safeties.’” So, what are the odds the Steelers make a trade for a safety or a tight end? The odds are better that I am elected Pope.

    JOE WERNER FROM WEST HENRIETTA, NY: Since the start of the Chuck Noll era, who would be the highest-drafted rookie to fail to make the team after training camp?
    ANSWER: There are two players, both second-round draft picks, who failed to make the roster coming out of their rookie training camps since Chuck Noll was hired in 1969. The first was a defensive back from Mississippi State named Ken Phares, who was a No. 2 pick, the 50th overall, in 1973; and Grambling State defensive end Bob Barber, who was a No. 2 pick, the 51st overall, in 1975. Of course, rookies who were injured and landed on injured reserve don’t count.
    McCrane got cut

  2. #112
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    Quote Originally Posted by Disco1981 View Post
    McCrane got cut
    yeah, Boswell's new competition is now Matthew Wright from UCF.

  3. #113
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    Quote Originally Posted by hawaiiansteel View Post
    yeah, Boswell's new competition is now Matthew Wright from UCF.
    Not sure Wright is really a competition. I watched him the whole time he was a UCF. The ball does not explode off his foot. He is accurate but I think he lacks Boswell's range (provided Bos quits with the Steve Blass imitation). Don't ever expect to see a kick into the end zone; most will land between the 5 and 10 yard line.

  4. #114
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    Sutton Smith: ĎIím Not A Selfish Playerí

    By Matthew Marczi
    Posted on May 27, 2019

    Championship rosters need talent at the top, without question. Just look at the list of the past however many Super Bowl champions and see who was playing a quarterback, for example. But championship rosters are also built from the bottom up with unselfish players who are willing to do whatever is necessary from the teamís perspective to help the group succeed as a whole.

    That is who Pittsburgh Steelers sixth-round rookie draft pick Sutton Smith wants to be. An undersized college defensive end, Smith was drafted to play outside linebacker in the teamís 3-4 defense, with an eye toward possibly playing inside as well if that doesnít work out. Yet during the first week of OTAs, they even had him lining up at fullback.

    ďJust the more that I can do, the betterĒ, he said, which Iím sure Head Coach Mike Tomlin amply informed him of. The more hats you can wear, the more useful youíll be. ďWhatever Coach Tomlin needs, anything really, Iíll be thereĒ, the Northern Illinois product said.

    One thing heís pretty much going to have to do without question to make the roster is to work on Danny Smithís special teams units, a fact of which he is well aware. Whether he plays outside or inside or even at fullback, any of those positions would require him to contribute in the third phase of the game as well.

    ďI told everyone I wasnít a selfish player. Whatever Iíve got to do to be able to be a part of this program and team and just be successful and help the unit. Thatís my goalĒ, Smith said while being interviewed last week for the teamís website about his first week of practice with the full squad.

    ďIt doesnít matter to me, Iíll do whatever they ask. Itís just, weíve got to learn it and move forward from itĒ, he went on, adding, ďlike I said, Iím not a selfish player. Iíd like to do whatever they needĒ.

    These are the sorts of players whose names are not going to be known outside of the home city in which they play, but the diehard fans might know them quite well. The guys who are willing to do anything for the sake of the betterment of the team. Thatís a pretty easy concept to root for, after all.

    Of course, if he actually develops into the position for which he was drafted, namely getting after the quarterback, the Steelers will find ways to get him on the field in the long run. on defense, there isnít anything more valuable than the man who can put the quarterback on his back. But unless or until he shows himself to be that guy, he could be wearing a lot of different hats, so an unselfish attitude is just what the job calls for.

    https://steelersdepot.com/2019/05/su...elfish-player/

  5. #115
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    Kind of at a loss why so many refer to this "position switch" for Sutton as such a big deal (both for him and the Steelers)... First of all, it's what the steelers have done for forever.. Aren't both Bud and TJ former DEs? Moreover, (after a quick draft scan) Joey Porter, Clark Haggans, Lamarr Woodley, Mike Vrabel, Jason Gildon, Jason Worilds, Alonzo Jackson -- sorry, had to -- were all defensive ends. And I'm sure i missed a few. So, the TEAM knows what it's looking for and how to handle the transition from DE to OLB.

    Which leads to part 2 - the player. You're clearly a good pass rusher if they selected you. Just listen to the coaches and do your job as best as you can...
    2013 MNF Executive Champion!

  6. #116
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteelerOfDeVille View Post
    Kind of at a loss why so many refer to this "position switch" for Sutton as such a big deal (both for him and the Steelers)... First of all, it's what the steelers have done for forever.. Aren't both Bud and TJ former DEs? Moreover, (after a quick draft scan) Joey Porter, Clark Haggans, Lamarr Woodley, Mike Vrabel, Jason Gildon, Jason Worilds, Alonzo Jackson -- sorry, had to -- were all defensive ends. And I'm sure i missed a few. So, the TEAM knows what it's looking for and how to handle the transition from DE to OLB.

    Which leads to part 2 - the player. You're clearly a good pass rusher if they selected you. Just listen to the coaches and do your job as best as you can...
    I don't think it's the position switch as much as Sutton's lack of size that concerns people. he got totally manhandled at the Senior Bowl...

  7. #117
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteelerOfDeVille View Post
    Kind of at a loss why so many refer to this "position switch" for Sutton as such a big deal (both for him and the Steelers)... First of all, it's what the steelers have done for forever.. Aren't both Bud and TJ former DEs? Moreover, (after a quick draft scan) Joey Porter, Clark Haggans, Lamarr Woodley, Mike Vrabel, Jason Gildon, Jason Worilds, Alonzo Jackson -- sorry, had to -- were all defensive ends. And I'm sure i missed a few. So, the TEAM knows what it's looking for and how to handle the transition from DE to OLB.

    Which leads to part 2 - the player. You're clearly a good pass rusher if they selected you. Just listen to the coaches and do your job as best as you can...
    I think switching positions is overplayed (I say that having never played a snap in professional sports). It does take a particular type of player to make a switch (smarts, willingness to learn something different, flexibility). But there is some physical aspects too (clearly a CB in college will not be playing center in the NFL).
    I would be concerned they are following the Dupree path again with Sutton. A speedy guy that will try to run around the lineman but rarely hitting home.

  8. #118
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    Quote Originally Posted by NorthCoast View Post
    I think switching positions is overplayed (I say that having never played a snap in professional sports). It does take a particular type of player to make a switch (smarts, willingness to learn something different, flexibility). But there is some physical aspects too (clearly a CB in college will not be playing center in the NFL).
    I would be concerned they are following the Dupree path again with Sutton. A speedy guy that will try to run around the lineman but rarely hitting home.
    sad thing about Dupree, he's got the strength... would rather use speed.
    2013 MNF Executive Champion!

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    Steelers Rookie Sutton Smith Not Overthinking Being Asked To Play Both Ways During OTAs

    By Dave Bryan
    Posted on May 30, 2019

    The Pittsburgh Steelers first preseason game of 2019 will take place at Heinz Field 10 weeks from tomorrow and that contest against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will include mostly younger players getting most of the playing time. One of those younger players, Sutton Smith, one of the teamís three sixth-round draft picks this year, will likely play offense, defense and special teams in the preseason opener and thus log the most playing time of anybody on the roster in that contest.

    Smith, who played defensive end during his college career at Northern Illinois, after mostly playing running back in high school, has been asked to play outside linebacker and fullback so far during the teamís OTA practices, the sixth of which concluded on Thursday. At the conclusion of Thursdayís practice, Smith talked more about his willingness to do whatever it takes to make the Steelers 53-man roster this year and how OTAs are going for him so far.

    ďI think itís gone petty good,Ē Smith said, according to 93.7 The Fan. ďYou know, I mean, they want me to learn two positions right now and I think Iím doing really well at that. Itís, honestly, itís a learning curve, you know, like for all the rookies, but I think Iím picking up well and I think I just got to keep playing fast and leave nothing on the field every day.Ē

    Last week during the teamís first week of OTA practices, it was revealed that Smith was getting some reps at the fullback position. He was asked again after Thursdayís practice what precipitated that position addition and how heís received being asked to take reps at fullback, in addition to some at linebacker.

    ďItís definitely a change because I played running back back in high school and obviously everybody thought like since of my stature, fullback could be a possibility,Ē Smith said. ďAnd I definitely agree. Whatever I can do to be on the field is what Iím going to do. And whatever they need. Like Iíve said in the past, Iím going to do whatever a Coach Tomlin needs and the Steelers organization needs me to do to be successful for this program and just helping out everybody here. Thatís my goal.Ē

    Smith was later asked on Thursday if he knew there would be a possibility throughout the pre-draft process that some teams might want to look at him as a running back or fullback being as he did mainly play in the offensive backfield during his high school career.

    ďI just heard from like outside scouts earlier on in my draft process that thatís a possibility,Ē Smith admitted. ďPeople wanted to work me out at that [position] a little bit. Nothing wrong with that, itís just another opportunity for me to go out and seize and hopefully do a great job at and thatís my goal right now.Ē

    After Thursdayís OTA practice ended, several videos of Smith participating on both sides in a running back versus linebacker open-field drill surfaced on Twitter. During his Thursday post-practice media session, Smith was asked about how big of challenge it is for him to play running back one rep in that drill and linebacker in the next rep.

    ďI just gotta be athletic,Ē Smith said. ďJust donít think about it. Flip the switch really quick. Football is football, man. If you overthink things, youíre gonna play slow. So, I just came out here and I did running back, that little inside tackling box drill thing with the running backs. I just switched with it. And switching from running back to outside linebacker, you just gotta make the switch quick and thatís what pros do and I just gotta be that pro. So, thatís all Iíve got to do right now.Ē

    Even though there were some rumblings right after Smith was drafted by the Steelers that he might work some at inside linebacker in addition to outside linebacker, he said Thursday that outside linebacker and fullback are the only positions heís practiced at thus far.

    ďMostly right now weíre looking at outside and then fullback right now,Ē Smith said. ďSo, I mean there might be things to come, I donít know. Thatís for Coach Tomlin and the coaching staff to decide, but Iím just here to help out the Steelers organization any way.Ē

    Smith also made it clear on Thursday that he doesnít believe working some at fullback during OTA practices will in any way stunt his development as an outside linebacker. In fact, he thinks working on both sides of the football during OTAs might help him become a better all-around player.

    ďNo, I donít think it should stunt anything at all,Ē Smith said. ďIf anything, it should improve my athletic ability. I mean, honestly, work is work out here whenever weíre doing all the drills and stuff. So, any type of running back drills that Iím doing is only going to help my feet, only going to help my mobility and movement. So, whatever type of work that I can do and get in is going to help me be on good on defense or offense. So, either one works.Ē

    Thatís certainly a great point by Smith and if anything, he figures to be in great physical condition by the start of training camp thanks to the extra reps he may have received on both sides of the football during OTAs. After all, like he and so many other younger players currently on the teamís offseason roster, he canít afford to miss practice time during training camp once it gets underway in late July.

    Even though it certainly looks like the Steelers are purposefully attempting to carve out a spot on this yearís 53-man roster for Smith by making him a two-way player and four-phase special teams player, it doesnít sound like the sixth-round draft pick is taking anything for granted with two weeks of OTA practices now in the books.

    ďI feel like they just want to keep me versatile, whatever,Ē Smith said. ďI donít honestly know what Coach Tomlinís plan is. But you know, I know that heís got a plan and Iím just going to trust in it and thatís all I got to do. Iíve just got to play fast and whatever happens, happens. I mean, Iím not going to look back, Iím just going to keep moving forward.Ē

    Like many of you reading this post, I look forward to hearing more about Smith as the offseason practices progress and I really look forward to seeing how many helmets he ultimately wears in the Steelers preseason opener and the kind of performance he has against the Buccaneers. He might be the ultimate Swiss army player for the Steelers during his rookie season and more than justify himself a roster spot.

    https://steelersdepot.com/2019/05/st...s-during-otas/

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    Sutton Smith trying to become Steelers utilityman as a rookie

    BRIAN BATKO
    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
    MAY 30, 2019

    When Sutton Smith wants something, he isnít afraid to go take it. Itís the kind of personality one should probably have to plan a proposal to his girlfriend after a conference championship, which is exactly what Smith did in December, a plan that worked out perfectly on the heels of a 30-29 win against Buffalo in the MAC title game.

    Six months later, Smith is chasing another goal in his first NFL offseason practices, and heís driven enough to take on whatever role the Steelers propose to him. Two weeks and six workouts into it, that includes fullback as much as it does outside linebacker, the bullet on his resume that made him a sixth-round draft pick last month. Itís clear now that trying him on the other side of the ball is more than just a one- or two-day experiment.

    ďI donít think it should stunt anything at all,Ē Smith said of his development so far. ďIf anything, it should improve my athletic ability. Honestly, work is work.Ē

    And the 6-foot, 233-pound Smith is getting plenty of it, albeit only in a non-padded setting to this point. But hereís hoping you didnít rush out to buy your No. 51 Smith jersey because the past few days of OTAs, heís been sporting No. 42. Not a typical number for a pass-rusher, but it is befitting a fullback.

    Smith, an all-everything defensive star at Northern Illinois, is taking handoffs, working on ball security and honing his pass protection in individual drills. When it comes time for team periods, he hops in with the defensive backups. Itís easy to see Mike Tomlin is keeping an eye on how he handles the dual workload.

    ďThere might be [more] things to come. I donít know, thatís for coach Tomlin and the coaching staff to decide,Ē said Smith, who might also project as an inside linebacker, given his lack of NFL size. ďBut Iím just here to help out the Steelers organization in any way.Ē

    An organization that has made the same move with a different but similarly accomplished player. Smith is aware that the starting Steelers fullback, Roosevelt Nix, is another former MAC defensive player of the year who was undersized. The 5-11, 248-pound Nix converted from defensive tackle to carve out a niche for himself in the NFL.

    If you go back to watch the grainy highlight tapes of Smithís pre-college days, all youíll really see is him being an all-state running back at Francis Howell High School in St. Charles, Mo. The Steelers probably wouldnít put all that much stock in that long-ago chapter of Smithís football journey, but at least itís a foundation to build on in exploring his versatility.

    ďQuick backstory,Ē Smith said with a smile. ďIíve always been flipping back and forth between defense and offense my whole life, so itís not unusual that teams see me in a different way. Ö And thatís what great coaches do, they see the athleticism in a person and try him out in multiple places. Credit to coach Tomlin; heís doing everything that he can to find me spots on the team, and I think Iím doing just that. Two positions is awesome. They even told me that today, that itís a really good thing.Ē

    Truth be told, itís not offense or defense Smith is most focused on at this point. Heís concentrating the most on trying to make a splash via special teams, which makes perfect sense for a sixth-round rookie. According to Smith, he wasnít used much in that capacity at Northern Illinois ó because he was so important to the defense ó but when he did play on the kickoff team, he led the Huskies in tackles for loss behind the 20-yard line.

    As a native of the St. Louis area, Smith is pulling for the Blues against the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Finals. He insists that if he manages to stick around Pittsburgh for a while, heíll definitely become a fan of the local teams, but Smith must admit he grew up a Cardinals fan.

    Clearly, heís enough of a baseball guy to understand the value of being a utilityman ó or a switch-hitter.

    ďIíve heard that all the time: The more you can do, the better,Ē Smith said. ďSpecial teams, outside linebacker, fullback, whichever order.Ē

    https://www.post-gazette.com/sports/...s/201905300114

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