The NFL has a pretty predictable timeline, at least for most of the players who actually make it and become starters. Most often, their heads are spinning throughout much of their rookie season as they work to process so much information about life both on and off the field. Things start to settle down as they head into their second season, this time knowing what to expect because they’ve already been through it.
That’s the exact course that Terrell Edmunds has taken. Coming into his second year in 2019 as a starting safety for the Pittsburgh Steelers, he talked to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about how differences he is seeing in himself in comparison to where he was a year ago, and during the regular season.
“The calls, the playbook, everything, you can say, is easier, you know what to expect. Now you can just go out there, get more comfortable and play your game”, he told Gerry Dulac. “Everything slows up in your mind”.
“Last year you can say everything was moving faster. From the first day of OTAs last year to the first day of OTAs this year, you can just tell because everything was moving so fast, everybody was moving fast”, the 2018 first-round pick went on. “And now that you have those snaps under your belt, that year under your belt, you’re one of those guys now, like you’re moving fast to the young guys now”.
When the Steelers drafted Edmunds, it was not with a mind toward him being a day-one starter, as they had previously brought in Morgan Burnett in free agency to do that, for at least a year or two. Edmunds, who was considered a bit raw and was an underclassman, would have some time to grow.
That’s how the team prefers to nurture their draft picks, but with Burnett’s injuries, they didn’t really have that luxury. And after a while, Edmunds simply proved to be capable of handling the job at a level sufficient enough that they didn’t feel the need to swap Burnett in once he was healthy.
But now the team needs him not just to be capable of starting, but to be a difference-making player, producing impact plays in whatever form that takes, whether it’s getting interceptions or making run stops or even pressuring the quarterback.
This year, he will be working with a new starter to his right with Steven Nelson at cornerback, though the rest of the secondary is projected to stay the same. The hope is that they can build some chemistry together as a unit, which is key when it comes to communication. Edmunds needs to be a vocal part of that communication chain as well.