The calendar has now flipped over to July and that means the Pittsburgh Steelers annual training camp will be getting underway in Latrobe later this month. As usual, we have several series planned to get you ready for this year’s training camp and mine will center around preview profiles of 50 players over the course of the next 25 days. Most of these profiles will be on players who were under contract with the team in 2016.
Up twenty-fourth in this series is a 2017 preview profile of cornerback Artie Burns.
Intro: As one would probably expect, Burns’ rookie season was very uneven. Once installed as the full-time starter in the middle of the season, his warts and inexperience were on full display in earlier contests. His play started to even out some later during the regular season and during the Steelers first two playoff games. His final regular season stat line included three interceptions and 13 total pass breakups, which wound up second-best on the team behind fellow cornerback Ross Cockrell. His 14 total penalties were also a team-high on defense.
Current Strengths: Has good closing speed when play is in front of him. Showed ability to recover on passes thrown over his head during rookie season to create breakups. Nice hands and playmaking ability just as he showed during college career. His length, leaping ability and overall straight-line speed are strengths that he needs to learn to use better moving forward.
Current Weaknesses: Needs to learn to play within defensive scheme better moving forward and especially against the run. Has failed to replace a few times on crack plays and left outside open for large run gains. Missed way too many tackles last season and needs to become a more physical player both in coverage and against the run. Needs to stay even with receivers more often and become more physically combative at catch point. Needs to take less penalties. Has to show comfort playing both cornerback spots in order for Steelers to become effective man coverage defense.
2017 Outlook: With one season in the NFL now under his belt, Burns will be expected to play much better in 2017 and I think that will ultimately happen. He should have a much better understanding of the defense and that should lead to more splash plays and a few more defensed passes. A more consistent and productive pass rush will only make him look better on the back-end as well.
2017 Base Salary: $885,954
2017 Salary Cap Charge: $2,179,769
2017 Health Status: No known ailments exiting offseason program
2016 Health Status: Zero games missed last season due to injury
2016 Regular Season Snaps Played: 810 of 1,046
2016 Stat That Matters: 3 interceptions last season tied him for team lead