The Pittsburgh Steelers are out of Latrobe and back at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are already into the regular season, where everything is magnified and, you know, actually counts. The team is working through the highs and lows and dramas that go through a typical Steelers season.
How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Will Artie Burns be the dimeback if Morgan Burnett and Cameron Sutton both miss the game?
The dime package has become a staple for the Steelers’ defense this season, a package that they run every game in order to counter offenses against certain looks in specific situations. Their primary dime defender this year has been Morgan Burnett, but he is not expected to play.
When Burnett missed time earlier this year, the dime defender was cornerback Cameron Sutton, but he is listed as questionable to play due to a personal reason that as far as I’m aware is undisclosed. Should both of them not play, that leaves scant options.
The chief option would have to be Artie Burns, who was previously benched after being a starter, and then working in a rotation at one of the starting spots—the alternatives would be cornerback Brian Allen, who has never played on defense, rookie safety Marcus Allen, who has never dressed for a game, and Jordan Dangerfield, who most recently has been used to counter run-heavy looks, rather than in passing situations.
The last time that Burns saw playing time on defense was at the end of a blowout victory against the Panthers three games ago. He managed to commit an unnecessary pass interference penalty in the end zone, the Steelers’ only penalty of the game. He otherwise has not played on defense since before the bye week.
Facing the Los Angeles Chargers offense is a less than ideal time to be down two of your top seven defensive backs, though it’s much better for those two to be your six and seven than any of your starters.