Pittsburgh Steelers rookie cornerback Senquez Golson had his first season with the team wiped out by an offseason shoulder injury but now that he’s been cleared to resume his normal workout program, head coach Mike Tomlin made it clear Wednesday during his end-of-the-season press conference that he expects the team’s 2015 second-round draft pick to hit the ground running in 2016.
“I’ll expect him to perform like a second-year guy,” said Tomlin of Golson. “Not because he’s played, because he’s been here. It’s no different from anybody that sustains an injury in their rookie year. I’m very upfront about what I expect from him. I expect him to come back and perform like a guy that’s been a part of us and he has. He hadn’t played, but he’s been a part of us. He’s been in our environment, he understands what we expect, he understands how we work. He’s had a chance to grow from a football intellect standpoint. All of those things should show up in his play as we get into 2016.”
The Steelers will certainly need Golson to step up and assume a huge role in their defense next season. As it stands right now the only cornerbacks the Steelers have under contract for the 2016 season are Golson, Doran Grant and Cortez Allen, even though Ross Cockrell will be easily be retained being as he’s an exclusive rights free agent. While there’s a chance veteran cornerbacks William Gay and Antwon Blake might both be re-signed during the offseason, Brandon Boykin might wind up elsewhere once the free agency signing period gets underway. The team traded for Boykin during training camp after it was determined that Golson would miss the entire season with his shoulder injury and he ended the 2015 season as the team’s nickel cornerback.
In all likelihood, Golson is currently slated to play in the slot next season in the team’s nickel sub package at the very least. However, he might also be given an opportunity to win one of the two starting outside cornerback positions during training camp and especially if Gay isn’t ultimately re-signed and Allen can’t bounce back.
Golson led the Southeastern Conference in interceptions during his final year at Mississippi.