Over the course of the last several weeks the Pittsburgh Steelers have made a concerted to get their top two draft picks from this year on the field more on the defensive side of the football. During his weekly talk with Missi Matthews on Steelers Nation Radio, defensive coordinator Keith Butler talked about where cornerback Artie Burns and safety Sean Davis are currently at in their development and what both players need to improve on.
“Artie missed most of training camp so we had to make sure that he was feeling good about what we’re doing and what we’re asking him to do,” Butler said of Burns, who is now entrenched as a starter. “He’s still learning in that respect. He’s got to stay even with guys sometimes and not trail them all the time and it got him in a little trouble in the touchdown to 88 [Dez Bryant].
“He was leaning on him a little bit and I think he pulled him back and so, he’s just going to have to be physically combative a little bit more and I think he’ll do that with age and getting stronger. As a young man, he should get stronger next year. I don’t know what his weight training was when he was at Miami or anything like that, but he needs to get stronger and when he does, he’ll be a much better football player.”
The last few weeks have been up and down for Burns and over the course of the last two games he’s been picked on by opposing quarterbacks quite a bit. He’s given up quite a few receptions in the last two games and two of those went for long touchdowns.
“We’ve tried to keep the ball in front of us for the most part,” said Butler “They got one against us when we played Baltimore. The Baltimore game hurt us. Mike Wallace, that was the one touchdown that they scored on the defense and we felt like if we can eliminate that play, just that play, or try to eliminate that play, then we’re going to be better.
“And we’re coaching him to try to not make the same mistakes that he’s made before and we think he’ll be better. He brings something to the group that helps us a little bit in terms of press coverage that he does a good job with and he’s only going to get better as the year rolls along.”
As for Davis, the team’s second-round draft pick this year, outside of a crucial facemask penalty late in Sunday’s loss to the Cowboys, he actually appeared to have a good game overall and Butler agrees.
“He’s been playing good for us,” Butler said of Davis. “He’s getting better and better. He’s still learning, he’s still a young guy as well as Artie, so we’ve got two young guys back there in the secondary that they’re still learning. We feel like they’re going to be good players for us.
“Unfortunately, we don’t have the time to wait on them to become good. They’ve got to become good, they’ve got to become good right now. And so, they’re still learning, they’re still in the process of learning and I think as a player, you get a lot better when you learn from your mistakes and you don’t repeat those mistakes, and I think those guys are trying to do that. So, hopefully, that will make us better as we get towards the end of the year.”
The Steelers will play the Cleveland Browns Sunday on the road and will be looking to break a four-game losing streak. Burns and Davis figure to play quite extensively during that game and should either make mistakes, hopefully they are few and far between and don’t result in any explosive scoring plays.
“We try to make sure those two guys, Carnell [Lake] does a good job of trying to educate them on what’s going to happen to them or what other teams are going to try to do and try to keep them in a position to have a chance to win. We just can’t give up big plays like we have.”