The Pittsburgh Steelers secondary went through quite a metamorphosis last season and that included the team’s top two draft picks, cornerback Artie Burns and safety Sean Davis, slowly being infused into the defense. As for Davis, who was initially asked to play in the slot before ultimately settling into a starting role at safety, the proverbial light finally came on for him during the second half of the 2016 season and he went on to be named the team’s top rookie as a result of his play.
During a Wednesday interview on Steelers Nation Radio, veteran Steelers safety Mike Mitchell was asked to talk about how he feels his partnership with Davis in the Steelers secondary has worked out so far.
“I think it’s been beautiful,” Mitchell said of his time so far with Davis. “He’s on vacation right now rehabbing his shoulder, or whatever, but I thought it was great. There were points at the end of the year last year we could joke around. He would watch film with me in the morning and we could joke around and he said it, he was like, ‘Man, I was so bad at the beginning of the year.’ And it’s funny to hear him say that because I was a rookie once and it’s true, you’re an amateur when you first get to the NFL. Even though you’ve been drafted and you’re a professional, your knowledge, you’re an amateur. And I laughed and joked with him and said, ‘I said similar things when I was towards the end of my rookie year.'”
Mitchell went on to say that he takes a lot of pride in watching Davis and Burns develop.
“It was amazing to see the progression and I think, now getting up there in age and I’m about to start my ninth year, I appreciate that more now,” Mitchell said. “Sharing time with the younger guys and teaching them things that I know to try to help speed up that process, it was beautiful to watch Sean and Artie grow. I really took a lot of pride in Sean winning rookie of the year because I spent so much time with him, specifically, because he played safety and we got together every morning and watched film. I took a lot of pride in him winning that award and I look forward to what he does this year.”
Mitchell believes now that Davis and Burns have a full season underneath their belts that both will continue to develop in 2017.
“They always say that your biggest growth is from your first to your second year. I think Sean’s going to be no different – Artie, I think all of our young guys, they have the right demeanor,” Mitchell said. “I think our scouts and coaches do a great job of drafting the right guys that really fit into our culture and what we’re trying to do. They’re all humble guys, legitimately. They may say crazy things on the internet, or whatever, but if you really get to know them, they’re all humble guys that really just want to work and get better and have completely bought into what it is to be a Pittsburgh Steeler and that’s the expectation that we have to win a championship not five years from now, but this year.”
Davis, as Mitchell reiterated on Wednesday, is currently rehabbing from offseason shoulder surgery and while he has been spotted taking part in a few conditioning drills at the start of the Steelers 2017 OTA practices, he figures to be limited in what he’s able to do on the field up until when the team reports to Latrobe for training camp in late July.
While Davis only started nine games during his rookie season, the Maryland product still managed to register 70 total tackles in addition to five passes defensed and one interception. 69 of Davis’ tackles came on defense in 2016 and only Mitchell and linebackers Lawrence Timmons and Ryan Shazier had more than he did.