A day after he worked with the third-team defense, Pittsburgh Steelers rookie safety Terrell Edmunds was revealed to be a part of the defense’s second string behind starters Morgan Burnett and Sean Davis when the coaches revealed their second official depth chart of the preseason. He had not been extended that same courtesy the first time around, even though his playing participation indicated that was the case.
During Sunday’s practice at Heinz Field, however, the Steelers had him running with the third-team group while fellow safeties Malik Golden and Jordan Dangerfield rotated in working with Nat Berhe. It wasn’t a demotion or sending a message, though. It was surely just to get a longer look at some of the other safeties who are competing for a back-end roster spot.
One might be inclined to be concerned that it signaled a demotion if you consider that the rookie safety allowed two touchdown passes in red-zone work against the Green Bay Packers in the previous game. He also missed an open-field tackle that led to a first down.
But he also showed instinct and athleticism that put him in the position to miss that tackle in the first place. And while he didn’t have perfect coverage on either of the touchdowns that he allowed, perfect coverage would still not have prevented those scores, and he did not do a poor job on either play. They were learning experiences.
Edmunds has been an encouraging player on the practice field for most of the summer now, and figures to have a role somewhere within the defense by the time the regular season begins. He may see a mixture of dime and dollar snaps, in which, at least based on training camp usage, he will line up at safety rather than in a moneybacker role.
Things are coming along for the young player, and a preseason performance cannot be defined merely by the statistics that a player records. Missing a tackle and giving up two touchdowns is not nearly as bad as it sounds when you are evaluating the way that a player looks on the field in terms of comfort, athleticism, and instinct.
The Virginia Tech product did look comfortable out there on the field. He also had the opportunity to display his athletic traits, and generally was assignment-sound, even if the end result did not always end in a positive play.
But the more reps that he gets, the better the results will be. I think he has shown that he is already the third-best safety on the roster. One might argue that that is not saying much in comparison to his competition. One might have a point, as well. But either way, he looks like a keeper, preseason results be damned.