Artie Burns is not by any means having the breakout season he planned for himself this year. The fact that he has been demoted over the past two weeks is all that must be pointed out to suffice that the Pittsburgh Steelers are in firm agreement with that sentiment.
By no means, however, has he, nor the team, given up on him, in the short term or in the future. The former first-round pick has every intention of reclaiming his full-time starting position in the lineup, and surely he would like to accomplish that sooner rather than later, his next chance to take a step toward that coming this afternoon—against Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley.
Burns has actually been open about his experiences this season, discussing the shot that his confidence had taken following poor performances and losing his starting job, forced into a rotation with Coty Sensabaugh. While he has made some plays—a forced fumble, a tackle for a safety—he has also given up a few touchdowns.
“It’s life”, he said of his struggles in the NFL, no different than outside of the game. “You go through stuff all the time. It determines who you are as a person. I’ve been doubted my whole life”. He is the oldest son—and also a father—and the head of his family after his mother passed away his final season in college, his father incarcerated. And he is still only 23 years old.
Of his pursuit of his starting job, he said, “it’s a challenge that’s winnable. Just have to stay focused in every snap”.
Burns recorded 13 passes defensed in each of his first two seasons, and four interceptions in both combined, but he has just one pass defensed so far this year, and has not even sniffed an interception. He did have a better game in coverage against the Baltimore Ravens—on 28 coverage snaps—but he was only targeted twice.
my suspicion is that the Steelers are close to reinstating him full-time into a starting role. I believe that he will play the vast majority of today’s game as long as he is not struggling, and perhaps that will be the same story for next week, but will be a full-time starter again on the other side of the bye week provided that he is not making the foolish mistakes that have gotten him demoted in the first place.
After all, it is in the team’s best interests that he wins the job. He is their most talented cornerback, so he also has to be one of their best, if not their very best. He should be much further along at this point in his career toward that end, but right now all we—and he—can focus on is simply getting back into the lineup full-time.