2018 South Side Questions: Game Edition – Will Burns Get Back On Defense?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are out of Latrobe and back at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are already into the regular season, where everything is magnified and, you know, actually counts. The team is working through the highs and lows and dramas that go through a typical Steelers season.

How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?

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: Game Edition – Will Artie Burns see any time on defense?

It’s been two weeks now—or two games, rather—since third-year cornerback and former starter Artie Burns has seen the field on defense. After starting and playing all of the first two games, he spent the next four weeks rotating with Coty Sensabaugh.

He looked to be in-line to play once again last week against the Cleveland Browns coming out of the bye, but then…didn’t play at all on defense. Mike Tomlin later confirmed that he was late to a Saturday walkthrough and that his lack of playing time was disciplinary, despite having some good work in practice.

But then he didn’t play on defense at all again this past Sunday, and during his press conference on Monday, seemed to suggest that Sensabaugh had won the job, or at least was willing to let reporters make that inference.

Has Sensabaugh won the job, or is Burns still being disciplined? Or is he just struggling more in practice? Or…will he actually play this time?

We’ll find out tonight, but really I don’t think we have seen a great deal of improvement in the secondary over the past two games. Sensabaugh still makes many of the same mistakes that Burns has been derided for, including committing pass interferences on deep passes when he has no reason to do so.

What is next for the 23-year-old cornerback? Even though he didn’t play on defense, he has still been contributing on special teams since he was first demoted (and apparently now benched?). For what it’s worth, he has also continued to be engaged on the sidelines and hasn’t ‘shut down’, so to speak.

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