According to today’s injury report, free safety Sean Davis was not a participant in practice today, dealing with a knee injury of some kind. Both he and Terrell Edmunds played every snap on Sunday against the Oakland Raiders, and Davis also played his usual role on the punt team, so the injury is likely not serious.
But with the news of his not practicing, I believe for the first time this season, and with Cameron Sutton also telling reporters that he worked in the slot today, I couldn’t help but wondering if there was a connection. And it made me think back to what was said back in September and if it still held true.
Mike Hilton told Jacob Klinger in late September that, should Davis be injured, Morgan Burnett would be the number two free safety, but that he would be the number three option behind those two. So did he take reps at free safety today?
“I guess they feel comfortable with my ability to tackle if something breaks. They feel like I have good enough range to cover sideline to sideline“, he said back then as he worked behind Davis while Burnett was out. “It’s just, whatever the coaches need me to do I’m willing to do it”.
Of course this was in late September, and we don’t know what might have changed since then. Burnett, for example, may be viewed only as the dimeback at this point, or only capable of starting at strong safety, after he has missed so much time due to injuries. They have also gotten a longer look at him on the field since then, and may have changed their mind about trusting him at free safety.
What about Terrell Edmunds? Hilton made it explicitly clear in September that he would play at free safety in the event of an injury before Edmunds would at the time, but is that still true? It wouldn’t be surprising, since they already know that they are stretching the limits with what they should be asking the rookie to do.
If Davis should miss the Steelers’ game on Sunday against the New England Patriots, could we possibly see a secondary that features Edmunds and Hilton at safety and Sutton in the slot? I’m guessing that the team is merely taking precaution’s with Davis’ injury at this point and that he should be fine by the end of the week, but given Hilton’s prior remarks, it’s interesting to consider.
Of course being forced to make that kind of adjustment when you’re about to face Tom Brady is far from ideal. It’s also important to remember that these comments are months old at this point. Jordan Dangerfield could even factor in here, though Hilton said back in September that he would play over any safety not named Davis, Burnett, or Edmunds.