Coming into the 2020 season, it was by more or less universal consensus, at least among the fans, that third-year starting strong safety was the weakest link in the Pittsburgh Steelers defense. Although he was a first-round pick just like so many of the other starters on the unit, the former Virginia Tech standout had not yet fully blossomed at the NFL level.
While he still has plenty of his detractors, however, he has been able to get some critics off of his back this year by turning in more consistent play, and even showing some playmaking ability, which had been a major flaw in his repertoire in the earlier portions of his career.
So far this season, he has 61 tackles, plus a sack. His two interceptions and eight passes defensed both represent career highs, and had been a sorely missing component of his game. Granted, you still want to see more, but more interesting is the improvement in consistency.
One person who has always been in his corner is his fellow starting safety, Minkah Fitzpatrick. “Terrell is a major component to this defense. He does a lot for us”, he told reporters on Thursday about the man with whom he has spent the most time on the field.
“He’s a smart guy, he communicates to everybody out there”, he added. “He allows myself to do what I do best, and vice versa. He does his job very well. Without him, it would be tough for us to play our role in the secondary. I think he’s a great player. I love playing with him. He’s easy to talk to, to communicate with. If I see something, I’ll communicate it to him, he’ll receive it, and then vice versa”.
The two of them have forged a relationship that stems off the field as well, and that bond also yields results on the field. To have strong communication at the last line of defense is big for any unit, and at least their safeties believe they have that.
“He’s an athletic safety who could cover, but he also could play in the box. He’s a great player”, Fitzpatrick added about Edmunds, who is dealing with a shoulder injury this week. “He’s been having a really good season. I think it’s kind of an underrated season, kind of going under the radar, because we’ve had a lot of attention as a whole as a defense. But I think he’s a guy that should be getting more respect than what he does”.
Will the Steelers show him enough respect in the Spring to pick up his fifth-year option? Beginning with his 2018 NFL Draft class, the fifth-year option becomes fully guaranteed at signing rather than only guaranteed for injury.