There are few, if any, football games which carry less significance than the last game of the preseason. With the majority of starters being rested for the following week's regular season contest, most fans don't think twice about missing the game and just reading recaps of what went down on that particular night.
While some fans, and even players, will write off the fourth preseason game, one member of the Pittsburgh Steelers isn't. That player would be none other than 1st draft pick Artie Burns. Burns, who suffered a quadriceps injury early in training camp, has missed all three preseason games to date, but is slated to participate against the Carolina Panthers Thursday night.
Admittedly, he feels behind from a physical standpoint, but it doesn't mean the mental aspect of his game is on par with the other members of the secondary.
"I feel like I'm behind from the reps standpoint," Burns told Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "I haven't been getting the training camp or game reps. As for the mental part of it, I feel like I'm in it. I made sure I watched film. That was the only way I could stay in it. I couldn't do anything physical. I had to stay in it mentally."
The big question remains on the minds of fans everywhere, "What can Burns actually bring to the team in 2016 when he is so far behind?" Burns feels as if he can still provide something to the 2016 Steelers defense.
"I still feel like I can contribute," Burns said. "I feel like they drafted me for a reason. I'm always going to give them my all."
Giving all you have is certainly a start for Burns, and he will have plenty of opportunities to do so on Thursday night to get his legs under him. The fact of the matter is the Steelers are not deep at the cornerback position, and if Burns can prove he is capable, even if it is towards the midway point of the season, he could certainly help rectify some weaknesses in the back end of the defense.
Thursday night might be meaningless to many, but Artie Burns isn't one of them.
Thursday night will see a lot of players sitting out as they prepare for the regular season. See below for a list of players who won't be dressing in Carolina.
Tomlin said these players will not play in Carolina: 7, 26, 84, 34, 11, 97, 91, 50, 94, 92, 95, 23, 22. And some OL, presumably 53 and 77— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) August 30, 2016
The Steelers and Panthers game Thursday night will be a 7:30 p.m. EDT kickoff.