As Senquez Golson was being carted off the field and was seen throwing his helmet in frustration, the "next man up" preceded to take his place in the slot. That man was not Artie Burns, the corner drafted in the 1st round, getting the opportunity to replace Golson in the slot, but rather the 2nd round pick, Safety Sean Davis.
Sean Davis in offseason OTA's and minicamp was already getting work playing in the slot when Golson was out with an undisclosed injury. This will come to no shocker as Carnell Lake alluded to this type of situation in his press conference when the Steelers drafted Sean Davis.
The first thing we heard about Davis from the words of Carnell Lake when the Steelers drafted him was that,
"He was a productive player at two positions, safety and corner."
He added on to that, talking about his coverage skills and the experience he has at the two positions,
"His cover skills in my opinion are very good. He's had a lot of experience not only covering slots and tight ends as a safety but he also played a year at corner, which gives him more experience."
Lake was later asked a question pertaining to whether he would put him at CB if an injury/emergency were to occur and he said
"I would not hesitate."
The question you may be asking is "Why is Davis playing ahead of Burns" and the answer is quite simple. Davis is further ahead in understanding the defense and is playing much faster than Burns. It doesn't come to much surprise to me as Davis called out signals at the safety position at Maryland and we shouldn't forget the guy knows three different languages (English, Chinese and French).
Another reason for this could be while Burns is a well gifted athlete (track star), Davis is also exceptionally gifted as well and actually was ranked 2nd in the three cone drill along with being 3rd in the 20-yard shuttle out of all defensive backs at the combine.
These numbers, while they may not look like they mean much, they actually explain why Davis is well suited to play in the slot over Burns. Quicker slot WR's like Julian Edelman are tough to match up against because of their quickness and elusiveness in the open field. If you have guy like Davis who is also much bigger (6-1, 202 LB's) but as quick as somebody like Edelman, it gives you comfort over who he's matched up on because even if they shifted the formation and put a TE on him, you have the luxury of not having to switch him off.
This gives Davis a leg up over Burns because while Burns is a good athlete, he is not ideally suited for playing in the slot.
Davis, in a way, reminds me a lot of Byron Jones because he could be answer to the Steelers coverage problems on tight ends, while also not being a liability in the run game because of his strong tackling traits (over 300 tackles throughout his college career).
Davis just looks like the better option at this point to put into the slot over Burns or anyone else due to the injury. Yes, Golson's injury is unfortunate but like Mike Tomlin always says, "Another man's misfortune is another man's opportunity" and the opportunity is paying off for the versatile Sean Davis.