The journey toward Super Bowl LII ended far too prematurely for the Pittsburgh Steelers, sending them into offseason mode before we were ready for it. But we are in it now, and are ready to move on, through the Combine, through free agency, through the draft, into OTAs, and beyond.
We have asked and answered a lot of questions over the years and will continue to do so, and at the moment, there seem to be a ton of questions that need answering. A surprise early exit in the postseason will do that to you though, especially when it happens in the way it did.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring developments all throughout the offseason process, all the way down to Latrobe. Pending free agents, possible veteran roster cuts, contract extensions, pre-draft visits, pro days, all of it will have its place when the time arises.
Question: Will the Steelers begin installing the dime defense during minicamp, or will it wait until training camp?
We heard from several players over the course of the three weeks of OTAs that the team hadn’t gotten around to working in the dime defense yet. We heard that all the way up until OTAs were over, meaning that they never worked on it during those nine practices on the field.
But many believe that the dime defense, or variations of it, is going to be a fairly important defensive package for the Steelers this season, as they have at least four cornerbacks and three safeties that they presumably would like to try to get on the field. Mike Hilton even confirmed that a seven-defensive back package is on the table, a look that we saw very briefly at the end of last season.
So if it actually is going to be something that is pretty important to the defense this year, one might think that they would want to at least get it installed and repped a couple of times before the players have around a month off heading into training camp. One being me, at least.
The last opportunity to be able to do that comes this week, while the Steelers hold their three-day mandatory minicamp, during which every player who has a signed contract is required to be there. Full attendance should make things easier to install, though there were no attendance issues at the back end of the defense until late when Artie Burns missed a couple of practices.
The Steelers will have multiple options to work with within the dime, either using four cornerbacks and two safeties or three of each. They have utilized both in the past, though I don’t believe they did last season, with William Gay as the dime back.
The two players most likely to be in that role of dime back are second-year cornerback Cameron Sutton, who has a start under his belt and has practiced everywhere, and rookie safety Terrell Edmunds, their first-round draft pick. Both could be used depending upon circumstances.