For the second straight week, Coty Sensabaugh was the guy as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ right cornerback spot. Yesterday, there wasn’t an off the field issue preventing Artie Burns from taking the field. Asked if that means Sensabaugh has won the job, Mike Tomlin answered it in a very Tomlin way.
“You tell me. Based on usage,” Tomlin said when asked if Sensabaugh had established the spot. Burns didn’t play a snap Sunday.
Tomlin then confirmed Burns was healthy yesterday. Both cornerbacks were active in the win over Baltimore despite dealing with injury during the week. Sensabaugh hurt his toe the week prior while Burns rolled an ankle in practice.
In the past, Tomlin said he was looking for consistency from the position and corners who could make combative plays downfield. Sensabaugh hasn’t been perfect but has earned more trust and played with better technique that makes him a more reliable option than Burns.
“We’ll keep working on playing guys until someone shows themselves in terms of being solid in that area”, he said about the position in late September. “I really appreciated all of those corners’ play tonight…those guys kicked in, but we’ve just got to have better play in terms of not giving up that big play down the field in one-on-one circumstances”.
Sunday, he was targeted just once, an incompletion via a Joe Flacco heave on the Ravens’ final drive. He was, however, called for pass interference in the second half, giving Baltimore great field position that led to a field goal. It’s the second straight week he’s been called for DPI; he mugged Antonio Callaway against the Browns and still allowed a TD pass.
The pass defense as a whole has been stingy enough the last two weeks, aside from a couple questionable pass interference calls. For that reason, along with his individual play, the Steelers haven’t felt compelled to rock the boat at corner. The rotation lasted longer than probably anyone wanted, far from the ideal, and the preference is to have one guy to rely on.
In theory, the spot could still change. It’s hard to consider Sensabaugh’s job “safe” if he struggles in the near future. But clearly, he’s in the driver’s seat right now. And even if he stumbles, there’s no guarantee Burns will be the next man up. With the DB room healthy, Cam Sutton could have an opportunity to play on the outside, as he did his rookie year and briefly filling in for Sensabaugh against the Browns.