Pittsburgh Steelers rookie cornerback Artie Burns certainly has had his share of challenges so far during training camp as not only has he been asked to occasionally try and cover wide receiver Antonio Brown, he’s also had to deal with a minor injury that has forced him to miss several recent training camp practices.
When Burns is finally able to return from his injury in the near future, head coach Mike Tomlin said Wednesday during his press conference that there are currently no plans to work this year’s first-round draft pick in the slot now that the team has lost second-year cornerback Senquez Golson for an extended amount of time due to a Lisfranc injury
“Not at this juncture,” said Tomlin. “We’ve worked a number of people there. You’ve got to be careful sometimes with the number of people you work in that position because you can water-down the reps to a point where they’re not sufficient for anyone. And so we’re being conscious about the number of people that we’re asking to work in there.”
When he has been on the field practicing this offseason, Burns has been asked to cover Brown quite a bit and Tomlin was asked Wednesday if the rookie having the league’s best wide receiver as a practice combatant will ultimately help the young cornerback.
“I think all of us benefit from the presence of guy’s like Antonio,” said Tomlin. “They’re standard setters. Not only defenders, but offensive players. You’re seeing young offensive running backs and receivers finishing in an Antonio Brown type of a way, for instance. I think the presence of unique guys like him with a unique approach to training is beneficial to everybody around him.”
While Tomlin currently has no plans to work Burns in the slot right now, he didn’t rule out the possibility of that ever happening.
“It’s not that he’s incapable [of playing in the slot] and it’s not that he may not one day at some point down the line be asked to do it, I’m just trying to manage the number of people that we’re working at the position so that those that we’re working are getting a substantial amount of work,” Tomlin said.
Based on other comments made Wednesday by Tomlin, Burns is unlikely to play Friday night in the team’s preseason opener against the Detroit Lions so his NFL debut isn’t likely to take place until the second preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles, assuming he’s able to start practicing again very soon.