Now that the Pittsburgh Steelers have lost slot cornerback Senquez Golson for an extended amount time due to a Lisfranc injury, next up in the pecking order at the position is rookie safety Sean Davis. However, according to head coach Mike Tomlin on Wednesday, there really wasn’t ever a pecking order to speak of.
“There was no pecking order,” said Tomlin. “We’re just working guys. It’s not like Senquez has done that much more than Davis that would put him in front of Davis. We’re working young people, they’re two of the young people that were working at the nickel back position. Like I’ve said several times over the course of the last couple of days, rotations and whose playing with what groups are less important right now than actually what we’re asking people to do. We’re mixing and matching in terms of groups.”
Pecking order or no pecking order, the differences between golson and Davis are quite noticeable as the latter is much bigger than the former. So what are the pros and cons related to having a bigger slot guy such as Davis compared to a much smaller player like Golson?
“The blitz game,” said Tomlin. “But you know, I’m not overly concerned with size or stature. I tell the big receivers all the time if they don’t consistently play big, they might as well not be big. So I’ll say the same thing about a big-statured guy in there if he’s not using his size as an asset in the run game, or not using his size as an asset in a matchup against backs, hypothetically speaking in the blitz game, then size is irrelevant. It’s about their ability to consistently use that size to their advantage.”
It’s funny that Tomlin mentioned blitzing as being an asset for a big player such as Davis as earlier on Wednesday defensive coordinator Keith Butler mentioned that as well when asked to talk about the possibility of the team’s second round draft pick this year playing in the slot this season now that Golson is sidelined with an injury.
“Well, he’s a big guy that can run and he can cover too,” said Butler. “He can do all of it so that position for him might be ideal for him. We’ll see. We’re going to have him play safety also, but at the same time we’ll work him some at the nickel too. It gives us kind of a weapon to blitz, a big guy like that, so he’s always a great in that situation. So we’ll see how he comes along.”
Speaking of blitzing defensive backs, last season that positional group registered 7 sacks with veteran safety Will Allen having four of them.
Being as Davis played both safety and cornerback at Maryland, at least he should have somewhat of an understanding of both positions as he heads into his rookie season. Even so, Butler was asked if him having to learn multiple positions during his first year in the NFL is a lot for him to take on.
“It is, it probably will be in our defense a little bit,” said Butler. “But at the same time, if he can handle it, and we’ll judge whether he can handle it mentally or not as we go through practices – the reason we have practice. He’s going to make mistakes, we just hope that he can correct those mistakes and he understands why he’s doing what we’re doing.”