The Pittsburgh Steelers were already underdogs heading into this past Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but the betting line sunk even further against them with the final injury report of the week, which saw the bulk of their starting secondary ruled out, headlined by All-Pro safety Minkah Fitzpatrick.
While slot cornerback Arthur Maulet typically has a significant role in the defense, the only full-time starter who ended up dressing and playing was fifth-year veteran safety Terrell Edmunds, himself just coming back after missing a game due to a concussion.
But his presence, not just through his play but his communication and leadership, was critical to the defense’s success on the day, as second-year Tre Norwood explained. This was the second time Norwood started next to Edmunds at safety in place of Fitzpatrick, but never under such dire circumstances in the secondary as a whole, so getting him back was “huge”.
“He’s a vet, a guy that’s played a lot of snaps and played a lot of football”, he told reporters via the team’s website. “Having a guy like that on the back end as well as our other vets, especially at a time like that with us kind of being thin on the back end, it eases the group as a whole to know that we still have that vet out there, just communicating, making sure everybody’s on the same page”.
A first-round pick back in 2018, Edmunds has never been the most popular player in the fanbase, in no small part due to where he was drafted relative to the level of play, but he has developed into a solid and consistent starter over the years—even if not an irreplaceable one.
His steady presence, however, was indispensable yesterday, working with backups and journeymen, with James Pierre starting at one cornerback position and Josh Jackson, called up from the practice squad, at the other.
“He is very calm. Never rattled, always calm. He’s always been like that”, Norwood said of Edmunds and the demeanor that he brings to the defensive back room. He is no doubt a fine example of the type of player who has a larger impact on a team than fans actually see—not by any means to suggest that his performance during games should be free from criticism.
Sunday’s game, however, was one of his better ones, finishing with 10 tackles, including four for lost yardage or no gain (albeit three of them as an assisted tackle). But as they say, availability is the best availability.
While he missed a couple of games in the past due to health, Edmunds has played over 4,300 defensive snaps since he was drafted in 2018, including over 1,100 last year, and is now up to 335 this year. He is part of the fabric of this defense—at least for the remainder of this season, as he will once again test free agency in 2023.