In the Pittsburgh Steelers Monday night win over the Washington Redskins, rookie first-round draft pick, cornerback Artie Burns, played a total of 9 defensive snaps. Conversely, newly acquired cornerback Justin Gilbert never saw the field Monday night and not even on special teams.
During his Tuesday press conference, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was asked to talk about the progress that both Burns and Gilbert made during the week of practice leading up to Monday night’s regular season opener and what he expects from both of the young cornerback moving forward.
“They both did a nice job,” said Tomlin. “Our offense, when you’re working on our card-defense, you get challenged. Artie is already showing signs of being one of those young guys who welcomes that challenge. He’s always looking for the matchup against 84 and I think that that helps him from a growth and development standpoint. And the same can be said about Justin. I like what they’ve done. They’re getting better and I think their usage will reflect that rise.”
As you can see, Tomlin hints that both Burns and Gilbert’s usage could start increasing in the coming weeks. At worst, one would think that Burns could see more playing time in the team’s dime sub package and at best, begin rotating with cornerback Ross Cockrell on the outside in either the base or nickel defense.
As for Gilbert, it will be interesting to see if he’s used any on defense in the coming weeks and especially since he’s still very new to the team. When it comes to more potential usage for him, one would think that will start with him first being allowed to return kickoffs and starting as soon as Sunday in the Steelers 2016 home opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.