After an offseason of turnover, the Steelers enter training camp with a lot of questions, making this one of their more important camps in recent memory
1. Nickel Cornerback: James Pierre and Justin Layne
Going into the offseason, many assumed that the nickel corner job was Cameron Sutton’s to lose. After the surprising release of veteran cornerback Steven Nelson, though, the outside job opposite of Joe Haden now has Sutton’s named penciled into it. This leaves two somewhat unproven commodities in Pierre and Layne to battle over who will be the primary slot cornerback.
Layne has been with the Steelers since 2019, used mostly on special teams and as a backup cornerback. His experience edge over Pierre had most thinking that it would be his job to lose going into OTAs and mini-camp.
That said, Pierre earned more playing time than Layne in the final quarter of the 2020 season and has impressed coaches thus far throughout offseason workouts. On top of that, an untimely arrest for Layne earlier in the off-season only strengthened Pierre’s case.
As an undrafted rookie in 2020 who only has a small number of snaps in the NFL, Pierre still has a ways to go, and it still seems as if this is Justin Layne’s job to lose. Regardless of who gets the majority of the snaps, this is arguably the most important position battle for the Steelers’ thin secondary.