2018 South Side Questions: Will Burnett Get Starting Role Back?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are out of Latrobe and back at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are already into the regular season, where everything is magnified and, you know, actually counts. The team is working through the highs and lows and dramas that go through a typical Steelers season.

How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?

These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.

Question: Is Morgan Burnett going to lose his starting job before he fully recovers from injury?

The Steelers spent good money—by their standards—to acquire a starting safety in free agency in veteran Morgan Burnett back in March. The plan was for him to start even after they used their first-round draft pick on Terrell Edmunds.

But Burnett has dealt with a series of injuries even going all the way back to the spring that has made it difficult for him to stay on the field—in practice or in stadiums—to participate. An injury late in the preseason caused him to be used rotationally and in sub-packages in the season opener, for example.

He did come back and was put into the starting lineup in the second game, but he suffered yet another injury, ended the practice week for Monday’s game as a non-participant, which meant that Edmunds not only started but played wall to wall.

Burnett has so far returned the practice and was a full participant, but it can probably be safely assumed that the Steelers are interested in getting Edmunds in the lineup on a full-time basis, pretty much as soon as he is capable of doing that. getting an interception in the last game didn’t hurt, nor was his flashy return.

We also have to see if the veteran safety doesn’t have any setbacks during the week. If he is still limited by injury then he can again be used rotationally. Even if he is 100 percent healthy, the Steelers may continue to rotate Edmunds and Burnett until they are comfortable with the rookie.

That is the approach that they took with Sean Davis in 2016 during his first year. He rotated with Robert Golden for two games in the middle of the season before taking over the job full-time. So the question is, barring injury, is Burnett going to be a full-time starter again in Pittsburgh?

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