Now that the 2018 NFL Draft is in the books, and the roster heading into the offseason is close to finalized—though always fluid—it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen happen over the course of the past few months.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends, such as an accumulation of offseason activity. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the summer as we head toward training camp.
Player: Morgan Burnett
Stock Value: Up
Evaluation Type: Minor, Short-Term
Reason: Injury Report
The Steelers are counting on veteran Morgan Burnett to deliver above the line play from the strong safety position this season, signing him to a three-year contract during free agency back in March. The ninth-year player hasn’t gotten the chance to participate much in training camp, so far, but is working his way back.
Tweaking his hamstring early on, Burnett missed a couple of days of practice—giving rookie first-round pick Terrell Edmunds the chance to get long looks with the first-team defense—but he was able to get back on the field yesterday as a partial participant, a good sign that he might be available for fully participation soon.
Soon as in perhaps Wednesday, as the Steelers head into a scheduled off day today. A number of prominent players, including fellow starting safety Sean Davis, are nursing some minor nicks, so the day off will hopefully serve the team well as the get back closer to full health. Excepting Ramon Foster of course.
Davis, sitting out practice yesterday, gave way to even more first-team reps for Edmunds, and Nat Berhe was the recipient of the snaps Burnett missed. Back during minicamp, Jordan Dangerfield was the first safety to step up, but he was the only player who had been with the team for more than an offseason.
Burnett has had some nagging soft-tissue injuries as he heads deeper into his career, and has already dealt with a couple of minor issues so far that have kept him out of offseason practices, so there is some concern. But he was in full pads yesterday even if he wasn’t back up to full speed, so it shouldn’t be long before he resumes his spot in the defense.
Which is critical because of the newness involved. Burnett, new to the team, is pairing with a young starter who is moving to a new position, and they are being instructed by a new coach who has not even worked at the professional level before. So anything that gets him back on the field is significant.