At this point, I don’t think that Morgan Burnett has to worry too much about not getting his starting job back when he returns back to full health, and frankly, the sooner he does, the better. Rookie safety Terrell Edmunds, who has started the past two games and played the majority of the season opener, has not been up to the task of his safety responsibilities, and it has cost the team.
While I’m far from pinning all of the defensive problems on a rookie strong safety—who has been exposed when asked to play free on select snaps—there is no doubt that his miscues have helped produce some of the adversity that the group has faced this year, including the 71-yard reception from John Brown last week, and the first touchdown to Travic Kelce two weeks earlier.
The Steelers used their first-round draft pick on the thick, athletic safety out of Virginia Tech, and the idea was to get him on the field right away, but the likely intention was for him to be a sub-package player.
Burnett is the player that they brought in to start. Edmunds wasn’t expected to be ready from day one to take on the responsibilities of a full-time starter, and as it turns out, that was wise. He still has a lot to learn, and the game needs to be scaled back for him to be effective right now.
The problem is that the former Green Bay Packers safety has had a terrible amount of difficulty staying on the field, frankly, ever since he signed. It’s fair to wonder how much he will even be able to contribute, considering that he has spent far more time on the sideline than in the game to date—including the preseason.
The Steelers really need Burnett to get healthy and to be able to play up to the role that he was brought in for. When he has played this year, he has been effective, but that does little good when you’re nursing injuries that prevent you from getting on the field.
He seemed to take a step backward last week when he ended the practice slate as a non-participant, listed as doubtful for the Sunday game. Head Coach Mike Tomlin will be updating his status later today, hopefully with some good news.
To be perfectly honest, if Burnett continues to deal with injuries, I would not object to the Steelers giving Jordan Dangerfield the opportunity to start. Nat Berhe has already been struggling replacing Burnett in the dimebacker role, so I would hope that he would not be looked to in that capacity.