When the Pittsburgh Steelers elected to release Mike Mitchell heading into the final season of his five-year contract signed in 2014, they also committed to the idea of finding a new free safety. While it wasn’t certain who that safety would be, it was known that one candidate, at least, would be an internal option.
So it was that starting strong safety Sean Davis, heading into his third season, was moved to the free safety position, where he lined up on Sunday and was arguably one of the Steelers’ better defenders on the field that day.
Head Coach Mike Tomlin took notice of that, complimenting him yesterday during his pre-game press conference ahead of the team’s home opener against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. Davis was playing primarily alongside rookie Terrell Edmunds.
“I thought he had some really good moments”, he offered. “I liked the breakup down the middle of the field early, the clean breakup where it was a defenseless receiver-type play and he did a good job of not hitting the guy in the head-and-neck area and not utilizing his head”.
He is referring, I believe, to the play at 10:57 in the first quarter, in which tight end David Njoku is targeted down the seam with Jon Bostic in coverage. The pass was high and incomplete, but Davis came in to lay a hit that ensure the tight end would not be able to make a second effort. Replay shows, though, that there was helmet-to-helmet contact on a defenseless receiver.
“Things like that—he’s new to the middle of the field as much as he’s in the middle of the field—to see him make a play like that and do so cleanly was encouraging”, the head coach continued. “He tracked the ball and had an interception that was negated by penalty. He broke up another big play on a play-action on a third down and one down the field, so I thought I saw some really good middle-of-the-field things”.
The third-year man, who recorded three interceptions last season, would have had his first after one game had Edmunds not been flagged for a penalty on the same play. He also recovered what should have been a live ball on a punt that was taken away from him.
“It was a good start, but again, you can’t pain with a broad brush”, the head coach concluded. “We’ve been in one stadium. We’re working and we’ll learn more about ourselves individually and collectively as we continue to step into more stadiums”.