2020 South Side Questions: Will Steelers Begin Incorporating Sean Davis Into Sub-Packages?

Sean Davis

The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the regular season, following the most unique offseason in the NFL since at least World War II. While it didn’t involve a player lockout, teams still did not have physical access to their players, though they were at least able to meet with them virtually.

Even training camp looked much different from the norm, and a big part of that was the fact that there will be no games along the way to prepare for. Their first football game of the year was to be the opener against the New York Giants.

As the season progresses, however, there will be a number of questions that arise on a daily basis, and we will do our best to try to raise attention to them as they come along, in an effort to both point them out and to create discussion

Questions like, how will the players who are in new positions this year going to perform? Will the rookies be able to contribute significantly? How will Ben Roethlisberger look—and the other quarterbacks as well? Now, we even have questions about whether or not players will be in quarantine.

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 Sean Davis begin to be worked into the defense in the coming weeks?

Late in training camp, defensive coordinator Keith Butler made it a point to say that fourth-year cornerback Cameron Sutton would play “quite a bit” for the defense this season, establishing himself in a dime role that would be more prominent this year.

And he did, playing 21 snaps in the season opener out of 71. That’s about a third of the time that they spent on the field in their dime package. But Butler said this of Sutton before they were able to re-sign Sean Davis, which they made no hesitation of doing after Washington somewhat surprisingly released him.

Though he had been with the team for four years, he has been out of the system all offseason, so it wouldn’t have been a great shock that they didn’t immediately install him into the defense, especially considering the fact that he has spent most of his career as a starting strong or free safety rather than as a roving sub-package player.

But the Steelers under Mike Tomlin have historically favored a third safety over a fourth cornerback for their dime, which they referred to as their quarter package. Everyone from Tyrone Carter to Robert Golden has played that role over the years.

Fans have long soured on Davis as a starting player, but he could be useful and effective in a sub-package role, and would provide a better matchup than Sutton in certain situations. The Steelers have mix-and-matched with their dime player before, such as in 2011, when a rookie Cortez Allen and safety Ryan Mundy both served in that role depending upon the situation.

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