When it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ secondary, it certainly often feels as though free agent signing Nat Berhe is something of a forgotten man. He is not among the starters, which includes Joe Haden, Artie Burns, Sean Davis, and Morgan Burnett, nor does he seem to be being given the opportunity to be a prominent sub-package participant like Mike Hilton, Cameron Sutton, or rookie Terrell Edmunds.
But that doesn’t mean that the Steelers’ coaching staff has been ignoring him, or doesn’t value him. at least earlier in training camp, when the starters at safety were injured, for example, he was given the opportunity to run with the first-team defense, though it seems that Edmunds has already become the next man up.
First-year defensive backs coach Tom Bradley was recently asked about Berhe and was in a hurry to offer his praises of the former New York Giants enforcer. “He is a quick study and can play a lot of positions for us”, he started off.
Bradley went on to call the safety a “pro’s pro. He works at it every day. He takes great pride in his mental as well as physical work on the field”.
At least for the time being, he is also working ahead of others at the safety position such as Jordan Dangerfield, rookie Marcus Allen, and Malik Golden, who is in his second training camp with the Steelers. While Berhe was primarily signed to participate on special teams, his function as a defensive player is not being ignored by the coaching staff.
The team has to figure out over the course of the next several weeks just how many safeties they intend to carry on their 53-man roster this season, with the foregone conclusion seeming to be five. After all, they did sign two in free agency and drafted two more, while retaining a starter from last season, so it’s almost hard to imagine them carrying fewer than that.
But it is very possible, and Berhe could play a role in that. If they are fully comfortable in what he can deliver on the defensive side of the ball in addition to what he will be asked to do as a primary participant on special teams, then the fifth safety on the roster, who would find it difficult to get a helmet, could become more redundant and thus expendable.
Players like Berhe are great for both the coaching staff and for the locker room. He seems to be in the same mold as the Darrius Heyward-Beys and the Arthur Moatses, who may not play big roles on the field, but are much more prominent presences in practice and behind the scenes.