If you have a good memory, I want you to think about the first time you walked into a new school, or even just your freshman year in High School. The nervousness of not really knowing what was awaiting you ahead.
Sure, you had been to school before, but not this...not High School. You went from the high man on the totem pole to the lowest in a matter of days. You were unsure about everything you once knew so well. Where at one time everything was so comfortable, now you found yourself almost second-guessing yourself.
I would image this is the same situation for a player who was drafted from NCAA football into the NFL. And this is the same situation Terrell Edmunds found himself in after he was the Pittsburgh Steelers’ top draft pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
For Edmunds, his rookie season wasn’t supposed to turn into being the iron man on the defense, but was supposed to be spot playing and learning behind Morgan Burnett. However, Burnett’s inability to stay healthy resulted in Edmunds being thrown into the fire earlier than planned, and teaching him some very valuable lessons along the way.
“Everything is a learning process, so last year I was coming in and learning a new system, learning how (Mike Tomlin) coaches and adjusting to the way he coaches and adjusting to the NFL at the same time,” Edmunds told Kevin Gorman of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “You’ve just got to keep on working. Now that I’ve got that under my belt and have that experience of going on the field and making those good plays and those bad plays, it just comes easier.”
Edmunds is certainly approaching that sophomore season where things are comfortable again. There are no surprises, just go out and do what you’ve always done — play football.
“Really, it’s just now you know what to expect,” Edmunds said. “You’ve been through it. You know the playbook better. It’s not so much a process of learning and playing. It’s more that you react to what you see, so now I’m just going out there and playing.”
To Steelers fans, this should be the best news you hear regarding Edmunds in 2019. Edmunds is an instinctive player, and this was evident when watching his Virginia Tech film, but last season you saw him almost second guessing himself. Unsure of his responsibilities and assignments, it slowed him down on the field.
The result? Bad angles, missed opportunities and blown assignments. But this year, his second alongside Sean Davis, should be different — in a good way.
“This is not their first lap around the track,” Mike Tomlin said after a recent training camp practice. “From an assignment standpoint, they got a better understanding of what they’re being asked to do. They’re not learning for the first time. They got a sense from a conditioning standpoint the rigors of this process, so they come into it with more trained professional bodies.”
Mike Tomlin didn’t just acknowledge Edmunds as a second year player who is looking to amplify his presence on the field, but as a player who spent the offseason improving himself and coming into camp in phenomenal physical condition.
“He’s highly conditioned. I think that was the one thing we learned about him, and that was a unique thing for a guy in his position,” Tomlin said. “To be able to play the number of snaps he was able to play and have that level of availability was a unique thing then. It is reasonable to expect that to be a unique springboard to him ascending continually.”
With all this positive talk, you might wonder if Edmunds is just going to coast and hope for the best in 2019. Think again, Edmunds knows all about how progression is the key to survival in the NFL.
“I’ve just got to keep doing what I’ve been doing and play the game that I know how to play, just ‘do me,’ you could say,” Edmunds said. “It’s going to come with time. The more plays you get under your belt, the more experiences you’ve put yourself into, the more stuff that you can do.
“You’ve got to keep on progressing from season to season. I can’t be the same guy as last year because that would be a down year for me, I’d say.”
Couldn’t have said it better myself.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they prepare for the 2019 preseason in just over a week.