You don’t often get to hear very much from position coaches over the course of a calendar year. You don’t often know exactly what their responsibility is in terms of whether or not their position group is struggling or thriving because of the hierarchy. That all makes it difficult to judge how good a position coach might be.
But I do know one thing so far about new ‘senior defensive assistant’ Teryl Austin, who is essentially the co-defensive backs coach, and that is that I like the way he communicates. He gave a great interview that you can hear on The Fan that, full disclosure, is a blogger’s goldmine that I’ll be harvesting over the next couple of days.
One of the topics that he touched on during the joint media interview session was fourth-year cornerback Artie Burns, a former first-round draft pick who lost his starting job early last season before ultimately being benched. Burns has been putting in both the physical and mental work this offseason and has shown up so far in training camp.
Austin agreed, and noted his positive reception to coaching points and alterations he’s made in the young cornerback’s game. “I think Artie’s been doing well”, he said. “I think he’s really bought into a couple of technique changes I’ve been working with him on, different things in terms of how we’re playing certain coverages, and he’s done a really good job of buying in”.
That’s exactly what you want to hear, of course. One thing that is interesting to note is that Burns did not train in Miami this offseason, as he usually does, but rather stayed in Pittsburgh to work at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, where he also sat in on coaches’ meetings. He has continued to bring that persistence into Latrobe.
“He’s been really competitive and he’s been around the ball. I think he’s done a good job”, Austin continued. “And when there has been a play that’s been made against him, because everybody’s gonna have a big one on him, he’s bounced back and he’s competed really well, so I like where he is with his mindset”.
Given that Burns himself admitted that his confidence took a hit early last season, both after giving up big plays and then after getting demoted, it’s crucial that he shows strong mental resilience this offseason after giving up a play.
“I like the way he’s working right now, and I think if we can get him to bounce back and be the type of player I think you know he can be, that’s going to be really positive for us”, Austin concluded. So far he appears to be in line for the top backup outside cornerback role. Perhaps, as he began his career as a rookie, he will see some snaps in the dime defense, kicking Steven Nelson inside along with Mike Hilton.