It shouldn’t be much of a surprise, but the Pittsburgh Steelers are looking to get a long look at their first-round draft pick, safety Terrell Edmunds, who played the majority of the team’s defensive snaps on Thursday against the Philadelphia Eagles. He came in late in the first quarter after the starters exited and remained in the game into the fourth.
The rookie spent a lot of his time playing up in the box, but he didn’t record his first tackle of the game until late in his second drive. It came on a first-round play from inside the red zone, during which he was able to come up in the box and make a stop against the run for a two-yard gain.
Edmunds recalled his first NFL tackle fondly, recalling to the team’s website, “I had to fill the hole one time, just came down, filled the hole, I think it was in the A-gap. It was nice coming down and making my first NFL tackle”.
He didn’t get long to digest the moment, however, because the Eagles scored on the next play. Edmunds was among the players playing in zone coverage in the area of the pass, which was enabled because Tyler Matakevich missed on his blitz attempt and allowed the quarterback to step up and make a throw, the tight end adjusting and moving into the soft spot of the zone.
He would go on to record two more tackles on defense over the course of the game, but he also saw an extensive amount of work on special teams, eventually seeing time on all of the return and coverage units.
Edmunds has been a positive performer during training camp so far, receiving additional playing time with the first-team defense on occasion due to injuries to Sean Davis and Morgan Burnett, and by now has seemed to solidify himself as the backup.
For now, he has played the strong safety position, spending most of his time in the box, but also worked some one-on-one coverage from the slot as well. But it wouldn’t be surprising if he begins to see more snaps playing at free safety as well just to expand his versatility.
Though he is not a starter, the Steelers still intend to get him on the field during sub-packages as a rookie as a sixth or even a seventh defensive back. During those situations, his assignments will be limited in order to give him the best opportunity to perform.
Overall, his preseason debut was a relatively positive but generally uneventful one, even with the three tackles. His first tackle was a quality run stop, the other two being clean-up tackles on short zone receptions. He did not make any glaringly obvious mental errors, so that’s a start.