It was just six days ago that Sean Davis played a full slate of snaps at free safety in a meaningful game for the first time for the Pittsburgh Steelers. The third-year player opened the season of his rookie year in 2016 as the team’s starting slot defender (due to necessity), but by midseason settled into a long-term role at strong safety before moving this offseason.
After Sunday’s game, Head Coach Mike Tomlin complimented the 2016 second-round pick, admitting that he got off to a “good start” and pointing out some specific plays that he felt were “encouraging”. Despite that, he hedged his remarks in saying that “it was a good start”, but “we’ve (only) been in one stadium”.
In other words, the sample size is small. Davis has only played against one quarterback so far, and that was a quarterback playing on a new team who is throwing to new wide receivers under a new offensive coordinator—an offensive coordinator he practiced against during his first two seasons.
Davis too acknowledged that he is a work in progress. “I have to continue to get better, get better reads to be able to help my corners out on fade balls”, he told the team’s website. “I feel like I have the skill-set, the speed to get sideline to sideline”.
There are a couple of moments during the opener in which I was able to notice on the coaches tape where he seemed to miss carrying a player down the field, one of which I highlighted in a film room article yesterday that could have been a big play, or even a touchdown, had Tyrod Taylor picked it up.
The only way to get better at playing the deep safety and learning what you have to look for is to continue playing it, however. Tomorrow will be his second shot at playing against an offense that will actually be running under a gameplan. And he will have to make sure that Tyreek Hill doesn’t take the top off the defense.
Still, Davis doesn’t shy away from the challenge, nor the responsibility, and he is enjoying the new role. “I am definitely liking this position change. I like being back there patrolling deep and having everyone’s back”, he said.
“I still have a lot of work that needs to be done”, the free safety went on. “I am adjusting well and getting better each week”.