Counting on it:** The Steelers finished 30th in the NFL in pass defense in 2015, and defensive backs coach Carnell Lake knows that improvement is needed. The Steelers took steps toward that this offseason by drafting cornerback Artie Burns in the first round and safety Sean Davis in the second. Lake is counting on improvement with infusion of the new talent, along with returning veterans such as William Gay and Mike Mitchell.
"We want to keep improving on the foundation that we've laid," said Lake. "We had some guys that were helping us early last year, guys like Stephon Tuitt who have a second year with us. They have good experience playing. We're going to need that. They have to help bring along the younger guys that are coming in, Artie Burns, Sean Davis. So that's why I'm counting on us having a better year."
- Burns on fire: While it's only been OTAs so far, which is football in shorts and no pads, Lake likes what he has seen from Burns.
"I think Artie is progressing very well," said Lake. "He has a mentality that he wants to be there and be productive and do things that we want him to do. And if he's doesn't get it, he wants more reps at it, which is a good sign."
The Steelers participate in Day 10 of the 2016 Organized Team Activities at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.
Rookie roles:** Lake remembers his rookie year when he started 15 games, and knows that the potential is there for a rookie to start in the Steelers defense, they just have to be prepared for it both mentally and physically.
"For me, that was my expectation going in," said Lake. "I think it starts with a players' mentality. It's something that you have to set in your mind as a goal. I knew at first I'd have to be a good team player, but at the same time I had to be a little selfish because somebody has to not start. I'd have to move somebody out of the way and you have to set your mindset like that. I'm going to be a teammate. I can't be friends with everybody now. I'm competing for a job. And I have to show every day why I should be the one that's going to start. Every practice, every opportunity to compete, whether it was conditioning drills, that was my opportunity to show why I needed to be starting. And until I met my goal that was my mentality."
Staying Golden: Safety Robert Golden is a player who brings the energy and mentality that Lake loves, but it doesn't stop there.
"Rob's always been a very smart player, a very versatile player," said Lake. "I like his approach to the game. He picks up the defense very quickly and can make the right adjustments on the field like a good safety should do. He's been instrumental to us, especially when we needed him to step in and come in to provide some depth when we needed it."