Bud Dupree openly admitted hitting the dreaded rookie wall last season. But the trio of rookies this year aren’t at that same risk.
That’s what Mike Tomlin told reporters during his weekly press conference this afternoon.
“They haven’t been starters the entire season,” he said today. “So I think that’s an element of it. And I think when you look at that erosion as you describe, it’s usually centered around snap count.”
Tomlin said he doesn’t imagine any of the rookies have more than 550 or so snaps this season.
By our rough counts from our charting, Javon Hargrave is sitting at 494 snaps. But Artie Burns and Sean Davis are way over that 550 estimate, Davis at 731 and Burns 799. The latter would cause some concern for the wall after Dupree played just 563 snaps in 2015 and admitted to feeling ineffective down the stretch.
None of that factors in training camp, preseason, or the week-to-week stretch of practices that add additional wear and tear.
But as Tomlin points out, none of the three have been starters for the whole season. Hargrave didn’t see consistent, substantial playing time until Cam Heyward was lost for the year, Burns’ role has slowly been expanded, and Davis was benched mid-way through the year and also missed time with a back injury.
All three are coming into their own, not wilting, and that’s certainly a difference from Dupree a year ago, who clearly faded down the stretch. Regardless of how any of them are feeling, their task and importance to the team doesn’t change. The Pittsburgh Steelers won’t get to a Super Bowl if they don’t play to the level they have over the last month.