The Pittsburgh Steelers have gone from having absolutely no depth in the secondary, to now having a plethora of such across the board. Whether cornerback or safety, the Keith Butler led defense has something it never had in the past — options.
For instance, at the safety position you have versatility across the board. Sean Davis can play both free and strong safety, and can even drop into the box to stop the run and blitz. Morgan Burnett filled a very similar role throughout his career with the Green Bay Packers. And top draft pick Terrell Edmunds is showing his capabilities, and versatility, every day at training camp.
With these options at safety it has fans wondering what the defensive coordinator has up his sleeves for the upcoming regular season.
When asked what Burnett brings to the defense, Butler’s answer possibly hinted at how they want to deploy the veteran safety.
“Versatility, more than anything else. Not just playing on 1st and 2nd downs, but maybe playing in the box on 3rd downs, and stuff like that. We have to see if our guys can do that.”
To hear the full interview with Keith Butler, check the video below:
DC Keith Butler on the defense, who has stood out at #SteelersCamp, our upcoming preseason game against the Eagles and more. pic.twitter.com/mjeoTZP9Q1— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 5, 2018
This shouldn’t come as a shock to fans regarding his thoughts on how to deploy Burnett. After all, Burnett’s primary role in Green Bay was to play in the box and cover tight ends. He is considered one of the best tackling safeties in the league, and would be a welcome addition in that capacity to a team who truly struggled to tackle efficiently in 2017.
However, if Burnett wins the starting strong safety spot on the starting defense, and the team plans on moving him into the hybrid S/ILB position on 3rd downs, you have to wonder who will be going back to fill the strong safety position?
Right now Terrell Edmunds is by far the player leading this race, but you also have options with defensive backs like Cameron Sutton, Brian Allen and even Mike Hilton.
In the above interview Butler goes on to talk about how Thursday night’s preseason game in Philadelphia against the Eagles will really just be an opening audition for many of the players, and he is mainly referencing the younger players on the roster. For as deep as the Steelers are at the safety and cornerback positions, they have also had several training camp injuries at those positions — especially safety.
Sean Davis has been hampered by a groin injury, and Burnett suffered a hamstring injury which had him watching more than practicing the first two weeks of camp. Nonetheless, this could be a great opportunity for the new players to showcase their talent, and for the starters to start the process of cohesion, if the coaching staff decides to play them sparingly in the first half.
Either way, stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they approach the upcoming 2018 regular season when the games really count.