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Artie Burns vs. Antonio Brown in Steelers practice prime example of 'iron sharpening iron'

Covering Antonio Brown is no easy task, yet rookie, and first round CB, Artie Burns has been given that task this offseason more than most. How he responds is the key in this equation.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Leading up to the 2016 NFL Draft Pittsburgh Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert spoke about how he asked defensive back prospects if they feel they could cover All-Pro receiver Antonio Brown.

Let's pause there for a minute.

Put yourself in these NFL prospects' shoes for a second. Brimming with confidence as you meet with the Steelers front office brass, the question is asked. How do you respond?

"Absolutely, I could cover AB."

Really? When healthy there might be one or two cornerbacks who stand a chance of covering Brown, within the rules, in today's NFL. You are telling me you can cover Brown? I'm all for confidence, but then there is borderline insanity.

You could always take the humble route.

"I don't know if I could cover him from Day 1, but I certainly am going to give it my best shot and keep coming back harder the next time."

Maybe that is the prefect answer, and one rookie cornerback Artie Burns possibly used in his meetings with the Steelers prior to being the team's top draft pick in this past draft class. As Burns has been experiencing throughout voluntary OTAs, he is seeing a lot of Brown in one-on-one settings.

There was the notable pass breakup in the team's first workout with Brown present, but Burns has had his share of failures in this matchup too. When hearing from the Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler, it is how a player responds which he notices the most.

"You better have a short memory," Butler told Jason Mackey of "I'm not gullible to think they're not, sometimes, going to get beat. They are. How they come back from that is what matters. If they go in the tank, they're wrong for the NFL. If they don't go in the tank and they fight back, have a short memory, perform under pressure, they'll last in the NFL."

From all reports throughout OTAs so far, Burns has not shied away from matching up across from Brown.

"I told Antonio he's probably our best coach out there, because of the routes he's going to run on them," Butler said. "As much as they can, they need to single up with him. If they can guard him, they can guard just about anybody."

The experience these defensive backs, not just Artie Burns, receive from Brown is invaluable in their maturation process. With William Gay being the only veteran of the group, players like Ross Cockrell, Senquez Golson and even safety Sean Davis can benefit from No. 84 carving them up in practice.

This is all part of the process. The process of young players improving, the process of getting acclimated to the NFL and ultimately the process of a secondary improving.

If the unit can improve from their 2015 ranking near the bottom of the NFL, this defense, and the team, will be primed and ready for a Super Bowl run.