Terrell Edmunds became just the latest in a line of rookies to start the season opener of their rookie season for the Pittsburgh Steelers when he was on the field for the team’s first snaps of the year last week against the Cleveland Browns.
But he is surely hoping to have a much bigger impact this time around. For his first game, during which he played 75 of the Steelers’ 89 defensive snaps, he hardly even registered at all. He was officially not credited with any tackles, nor does any website dock him for any missed tackles. He just wasn’t really present in the plays.
He was credited for a pass breakup on a deep pass to David Njoku that the former first-round tight end was unable to hold on to, though he had already begun to lose it before Edmunds became involved. The safety also registered a quarterback hit against Tyrod Taylor while blitzing.
Other than that—and a defensive holding penalty against Jarvis Landry that took an interception away from pairing safety Sean Davis—the first-rounder was persona non grata to start his NFL career. That is not necessarily a horrible thing, though it is unusual for a strong safety not to register even an assisted tackle.
The assumption even when the Steelers used their first-round draft pick on him was that Edmunds would serve as a sub-package player during his rookie season behind Morgan Burnett, a veteran safety that they had signed in free agency on a three-year contract worth about $5 million per season.
Entering today’s game, it’s still not entirely clear exactly what the plan is on the Steelers’ end. Burnett missed a lot of time all through the offseason due to minor nagging injuries, and missed a lot of time heading into the season opener, including the final two preseason games.
We haven’t really heard a whiff of anything heading into this game, but for all we know, the plan could be for Burnett to start the game. The veteran still ended up playing 40 snaps for the Steelers in the opener while rotating with Edmunds and playing in the quarter package as a third safety used in a moneybacker role.
Burnett did register two tackles in the game. And perhaps it’s worth noting (perhaps not) that he is still listed as the starter on the depth chart of the team’s website, over Edmunds. The beat writers have been silent about what they have seen from the strong safety spot during practice this week.
What we do know is that both of them are going to play, and probably see a decent amount of snaps, so either way, Edmunds will have a chance to make a bigger impact than he did a week ago. Part of that impact may be trying to contain Pro Bowl tight end Travis Kelce.