You may notice a pattern here, as it seems that I’ve chosen a number of players for further film study from the Pittsburgh Steelers’ loss to the Eagles who are unlikely to be able to play on Sunday. Next on deck is rookie safety Sean Davis, who actually spent most of his time playing safety in that game—and in the process made his back injury suffered on the first play I’m going to highlight worse.
That first play was a big one, a 40-yard running back screen, and unfortunately I have to direct your eyes for this example because this was the best of bad angles. Davis is aligned dropped back in the right slot to start the play, so look to the left, off-camera, to start the play. It’s the left guard who fanned out on the block and ended up squaring up on Davis’ back, as he seemed to drop somewhat gingerly to the ground after the initial hit.
He came out after that play, but it wasn’t too long before he was back in, and still in the slot late in the first quarter. This was a wide receiver screen in which Davis did a nice job of engaging the blocker and funneling the run. He joined in on the tackle despite being held on the play.
Later on the same drive, early in the second quarter, Davis has already moved to safety. With Mike Mitchell tracking a post pattern from the defensive right side, I do like Davis’ recognition in trying to get over to cover the corner route coming out of the far slot.
It was just a couple of plays later that the Eagles’ athletic offensive line was able to open up a gap in the Steelers’ front seven, in their 3-4 look, and still with their starting inside linebackers on the field. It was up to Davis on this play to be the last line of defense, and he did a nice job of staying with the runner in the open field and making the shoe-string tackle to save what would in all likelihood have otherwise been a touchdown.
Of course, he also missed a couple of tackles, as has been the case in each game so far, with this one coming midway through the third quarter. This time it’s an inside run between the tackle, but it still found a crease, and Davis found himself one-on-one with the back in the open field, but he could not make the tackle. At least, this time, he was not the last defender.
I do think that Davis has made some progress through the first three games, with the growing pains mixed in, and I’m glad to see that he was able to get some good work in at safety. Unfortunately, it likely came at the cost of making his injury worse, and will almost certainly keep him out of Sunday’s game as a result, though hopefully no longer than that.