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Snap totals for the Steelers in Week 1 show rookies could have significant role in 2018

If you gauge a rookie class by how much they play, the Steelers could see several rookies make an impact this season.

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

There used to be a time when a rookie drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers, especially on defense, knew they would essentially have a red-shirt year where all they would do is contribute on special teams. After all, unless your name was Ben Roethlisberger, you knew you would have to wait your turn.

Some of the greatest players of the modern era to wear the black-and-gold had to wait.

Troy Polamalu, James Harrison, Hines Ward, Brett Keisel...all had to pay their dues before getting their shot.

After the Steelers’ Week 1 tie with the Cleveland Browns, I wanted to take a look at the snap counts to get a feel for how the coaching staff was utilizing the rookies on the team. In recent years, rookies have been infused into the lineup more than ever under Mike Tomlin, and this year was no different.

The big name of the group was Terrell Edmunds. The first round safety didn’t just start the game at Strong Safety, but logged 74 of 89 defensive snaps. This total was second only to Sean Davis who played in all 89 plays. Edmunds’ totals compared to other safeties were as follows:

Sean Davis — 89
Terrell Edmunds — 74
Morgan Burnett — 40
Jordan Dangerfield — 0

Whether you believe Edmunds is ready for this heavy of a workload or not, the Steelers’ coaching staff trusted him enough to be the starter in the deep half of the secondary.

Edmunds wasn’t the only rookie who saw the field in Week 1. Chukwuma Okorafor, the third round offensive tackle out of Western Michigan, was used as the swing tackle, as well as the extra tackle/tight end in ‘Jumbo’ packages to help run the football.

‘Chuks’ played in 17 offensive snaps, out of a possible 84.

Fellow rookie James Washington, second round wide receiver out of Oklahoma State, saw the field the least amount of the three, notching just 11 snaps, with zero targets or receptions, to his young NFL resume.

Fans of Washington were disappointed with the lack of his playing time, compared to that of Justin Hunter, who registered 51 offensive snaps on the day, but should be reminded how Washington is likely following the JuJu Smith-Schuster plan. Last year Smith-Schuster didn’t start to see significant reps early in the season either. Rather, they eased him into the role. I can only imagine the team is following suit in this regard.

Either way, this trio of rookies are doing work in one way or another this season, and all will be called upon to fill a role at one point or another. The hope is Edmunds continues to solidify his starting role with the team, but Okorafor playing significant snaps means an injury to a starter, so filling his role as a backup is just fine for his rookie season. I think we all can envision a time when Washington outshines Hunter and earns his spot within the offense.

Check out the full Snap Totals below, or by clicking HERE: