3 Steelers currently winning their positional training camp battles
By Tommy Jaggi
Biggest competition: Antoine Brooks, Justin Layne
So far, James Pierre couldn’t ask for a much better start to training camp than the one he has had in his second NFL season. Despite being a former undrafted player out of Florida Atlantic, Pierre quickly found favor from Pittsburgh’s coaching staff and many thought he had leapfrogged Justin Layne on the depth chart by late in the season.
While Layne is the biggest competition he faces in terms of other boundary cornerbacks, Antoine Brooks might even be a bigger threat to cut into his snaps. Though Brooks – a former safety – is listed as the team’s starting nickel cornerback, it’s going to be hard for Pittsburgh to get both Brooks and Pierre on the field at the same time.
If Brooks is in the game in nickel, Pittsburgh’s other two cornerbacks will be Joe Haden and Cameron Sutton on the outside. Likewise, if the team deploys Pierre as a boundary corner opposite Joe Haden in nickel, then Sutton will likely kick inside.
As of now, Pierre is certainly doing enough to catch the attention of both his team and the fans viewing from Heinz Field as he has held his own going toe-to-toe against JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson so far. If he can start to get his hands on a few more balls, he could be the clear primary backup boundary cornerback this year for the Steelers.