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Steelers rookie CB Artie Burns making big strides, but tackling remains an issue

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The Pittsburgh Steelers first round draft pick Artie Burns has been making huge strides in his game, but tackling remains an issue with the Miami product.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

When the Pittsburgh Steelers selected cornerback Artie Burns with their first selection in the 2016 NFL Draft, there were several words used to describe the Miami defensive back.

Project.

Potential.

Deficiencies.

Future Player.

I could go on, but if you followed the talk after the draft you've heard and read all those things before. While most didn't think Burns would contribute much in his rookie season, he has done just the opposite throughout the first four weeks of the season.

Has he developed into a full-time starter? No, but he has been used more in the early portions of 2016 than anyone could have guessed. Burns has played in all four games of the regular season, and his stat line is rather barren. With no interceptions or forced fumbles, the one stat line he can truly hang his hat on are his four pass defenses.

If Burns has done anything, it is prove he is more than capable of covering at the NFL level. However, despite the large leaps and bounds he has made in the coverage category, there is one area of his game which is still lacking -- tackling.

Burns has been credited with 8 combined tackles this season, and also with some costly missed tackles. His defensive coordinator Keith Butler talked about this aspect of Burns' game on Thursday.

"He's got to get better at tackling," Butler told Mark Kaboly of DKPittsburghSports.com. "He knows that. I think what's probably a little surprise to all young guys as corners when they come in the league is the way NFL offense puts young corners in positions where they have to tackle. It's not something we can get away with, so he's got to improve his tackling. He's been working on it. He's been working hard on it and I believe and am encouraged by the way he's competing on the field. It means something to him to win a deep pass that's incomplete, stuff like that. I'm happy with his competitiveness."

Burns is far from perfect, but his progress in his first year as a professional has been extremely promising. If Burns is able to improve his tackling, there is no doubt he could be everything the Steelers expected from him as a first round pick -- a talented outside cornerback to play for the black and gold for years.