Training camp is right around the corner and like we have for the past few years, plan on being there for every single practice. Matthew Marczi has dutifully given us a low-down on most of the position groups already but with me going to St. Vincent in two weeks, I wanted to outline what I’m looking for from each player. We’ll start with the four quarterbacks on the roster.
For the final group, we look at the Steelers’ safeties.
Morgan Burnett: Communication. Intelligence. Leadership. Those were all the reasons Burnett was brought in. It definitely wasn’t his playmaking ability or athleticism. Where he lines up sure will be interesting. I’m guessing he will start things off at SS. Pittsburgh could use some dime packages in camp they didn’t run in the spring, that was reserved for basic install only (base and nickel), and that’ll give us our first clue of how they’re going to line up. His impact will be tougher to see than the others in this group.
Sean Davis: Like practically the rest of this group, the first thing is figuring out where they want to play him. I’m guessing the team will cave and put him at free safety, another new position for him to figure out. That means playing in lots more space, so he’ll have to get used to that. You’re praying that someone in the secondary becomes a real playmaker and at safety, Davis probably gives the best odds. Someone who can play the deep half, deep middle, read the QB, understand route concepts, and make a break on the ball. We’ve seen a little of that but for him to take the next level, there’s gotta be more.
Terrell Edmunds: Big expectations for the rookie though I think his role is going to be more manageable than say, T.J. Watt or even James Washington. Edmunds won’t be a full-blown starter, not at least, hopefully, but playing in dime packages. If he is the SS in that role, he’s gong to mostly be playing the deep half, making his reads a little bit easier. Still, he can’t be fooled by route concepts or the eyes of the QB, who will do their best to move him off his spot. Want to see him show the athleticism and range to play the sideline in Cover 2. And of course, be a strong tackler in space, no easy task in the NFL.
Marcus Allen: His role should be well defined. A true, box strong safety. He’s gotta lay the lumber, be a sure tackler, and make an impact on special teams. It’s a more limited scope of expectations than the others but that said, my expectations of him achieving that are larger. This stuff is in his wheelhouse and he’s not as raw as Edmunds.
Jordan Dangerfield: Dangerfield did get a brief run with the 1st team when Burnett was out of the lineup. Experience is in his favor, now a veteran on this team who played a good bit in 2016 before injury derailed him last season. But based on all they invested in during the offseason, it’s hard to see Dangerfield’s path to the roster. He’s a run-and-hit box safety with a plucky attitude on special teams but has never shown much in coverage and there’s enough quality special teamers on the roster already.
Nat Berhe: One of those special teamers is Berhe, brought in from the New York Giants this offseason. The biggest shoes he’ll fill are Robert Golden’s as the upback on the punt coverage unit, though I expect him to be a four-phase guy and play everywhere there. He’s similar to Allen and Dangerfield for his fearless mentality as a hitter. Camp is going to be rough for running backs. They better keep their head on a swivel.
Malik Golden: It’s a tough spot for Golden because he feels like the odd man out. He isn’t the draft pick, the offseason signing, or the veteran like Dangerfield. What he does have going for him is above average athleticism and he profiles better at FS than most of the others on this list. I don’t see that as enough to get him on the 53 but practice squad is certainly possible, since it’s really down to him and Dangerfield (assuming Dangerfield is still eligible, which I believe he is).