With the Pittsburgh Steelers having completed the first portion of their season, now would be as good a time as any to take a look back on what’s transpired this year and give out some midseason player evaluations.
The team has had a rocky but ultimately successful season to date, coming out of the first six games with a winning record despite being 1-2-1 just two weeks ago. Coming off of consecutive strong victories with improve play from both sides of the ball, things are looking up.
The offense has done its part for the most part, but has taken some long vacations. Their disappearing acts in the second half was perplexing, but that has improved. Defensively, the secondary is seemingly becoming a bit more stable after being nothing short of terrible previously, but there are absolutely some real concerns remaining.
Player: Morgan Burnett, S
There hasn’t been a more disappointing player in Pittsburgh so far this season than Morgan Burnett, the strong safety from the Packers that the Steelers signed in free agency with the intention of him being their starter there for at least this season, and perhaps beyond. While he wasn’t given a luxurious contract, it was more than adequate for a middling starter.
Which is what the Steelers were roughly expecting to get out of him. He was not being brought in to be a playmaker by any means, but they did count on him to bring some level of stability on the field that they had been lacking with his discipline, tackling, and communication skills.
The problem is, of course, as it has been for the past several years with Burnett, and that has been chronic soft tissue injuries. He has been dealing with a soft tissue injury of one nature or another, whether it be a hamstring or a groin or something else, pretty much since he has gotten here.
It cost him most of the preseason and forced him to miss starting in the season opener, though he rotated in with rookie Terrell Edmunds, who took the bulk of the snaps. He started the following week, but has missed the past four games due to a groin injury.
He finished this past week of practice being able to put to practices of full participation together, and he appears to be in line to get back on the field tomorrow, though in what role it is unknown. Edmunds figures to remain the starter. Cameron Sutton has been working in the dime role that Burnett may take back.
When he has been on the field, both during the regular season and going back to the preseason, Burnett has shown the abilities that remind why he was signed. He is a strong tackler who can finish plays in the open field and is not liable to be fooled in coverage too often. The problem is just staying on the field.