By any account, it was a rough start to the season for Artie Burns. But there’s no denying he’s made surprisingly positive progression over the last three weeks, starting with his tackling. He’s gone from putting on an awful show against the Miami Dolphins to a reliable, physical tackler.
Mike Tomlin was asked about the reason for Burns’ improvement and attributed it to his work ethic and humility.
“He works diligently at it daily. Not only during practice, and you might ask how a guy works at tackling when he’s not tackling, but the approach is just as important as the tackle itself. And I see an increased emphasis on the approach and his positioning. And I have for some time.”
Going back to that Dolphins’ game, we talked about Burns being unable to “keep the cup” or contain the run effectively. And individually, not always coming to balance, driving his head across the man, and finishing the play. Both areas have appeared to have grown significantly and maybe something we’ll break down more in-depth throughout the week.
But that stems from a personal want-to, a drive and a motivation and per Tomlin, Burns has that in spades.
“He’s been no-nonsense in his approach to improving in that area. He’s consistently one of the guys who’s after practice working on sleds and pop ups and so forth, gravitating towards the veteran players who have routines in that area, trying to find a routine of his own. A young guy that’s legitimately humble and does more listening than talking is usually going to improve. And I think that describes not only him but Sean Davis and Hargrave as well.”
It’s still so early in all three of their careers but it’s hard not to be excited about this group. There have been growing pains for all three but the team has been able to win in spite of that.Burns is the first Steelers’ rookie DB to have three interceptions in his rookie year since Scott Shields in 1999.
Though Tomlin said Burns, and any other rookie, will have challenges ahead of him, he thinks they’re tough enough to handle it.
“I’m sure he’ll be challenged in some other areas moving forward in his career. And if that’s a template, then it bodes well for him as a professional.”