Second-year Pittsburgh Steelers safety Terrell Edmunds is doing his best to move on from ‘like-gate’. He says he didn’t realize what the Tweet that he liked from former teammate Antonio Brown, with whom he presumably remains friends, was referring to, and that fueled criticism on social media and among some less accomplished beat writers—probably bloggers—as well.
Instead, he would rather focus on preparing for his sophomore year in the NFL, a year after being prematurely thrust into a starting role from his opening game to the last. He ultimately started 15 of 16 games and played significantly even in the game that he didn’t start.
That wasn’t the plan. the Steelers signed veteran Morgan Burnett in free agency to be the starter, but injuries prevented him from being able to be in a starting role in the opener. He would start in Week Two before suffering another injury that put him in the shelf long enough for Edmunds to keep the starting job.
“In the moment it’s like, ‘we’re here, we’ve got to do it because you’re the next man up’”, he said of his unexpected starting role. “You’ve got to step up, you’ve got to go in and they don’t expect a downfall from anybody’s play. You’ve got to put the big-boy pants on and then go out and help the team the best way you can”.
He wound up being on the field for over 90 percent of the team’s defensive snaps, second only to fellow starting safety Sean Davis, and you could see his rookie learning curve gradually receding over the course of the year. He is focused on being as prepared as possible in 2019.
“I’m trying to develop into the prominent player that everyone needs. That means coming out, working hard and getting better”, he said. Particularly when it comes to providing what the Steelers liked most last season—a lack of interceptions, and turnovers.
“It’s catching more interceptions, getting more comfortable with having the ball in our hands”, he said. “There’s an emphasis that when the ball is on the ground, we’ve got to scoop it up. It’s going after the ball, constantly having the ball in your hands regardless if it’s a pass breakup, scooping it up or catching it and taking it back for six”.
Edmunds recorded one interception during his rookie season, coming in Week Three against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which he returned for 35 yards, showing well with the ball in his hands. He also recorded an interception against the Tennessee Titans in the preseason that he returned for 30 yards.
The team has not had a player intercept more than three passes since Troy Polamalu recorded seven in 2010, the year he won the Defensive Player of the Year Award. They have had eight players record three interceptions since then, most recently both Davis and Ryan Shazier in 2017. Joe Haden was the only player with multiple interceptions in 2018.