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Offseason Program

Communication breakdown

It was a gaffe that could have potentially been disastrous.

But since no one was hurt, the Steelers chalked up today's too-close-for-comfort encounter between cornerback Artie Burns and slot-cornerback Mike Hilton as a valuable teaching tool regarding the importance of communication.

"We just had a little collision," Hilton explained, seemingly

"Neither one of us said anything and you saw the result."

It was an example of everyone needing to be on the same page, even when a defense thinks it knows what's coming.

"Especially down on the goal line, you know what an offense is going to do," Hilton continued. "They're going to run a lot of pick-routes and quick routes. As a defensive unit we have to communicate so stuff like that won't happen."

Improved communication has been repeatedly referenced by Steelers' defenders as a goal during OTAs.

"That's what we feel like caused a lot of big plays against us last year, communication effect," Hilton said. "We get better communicating, we'll be in position to make plays. It's something we've been working on and we have to make sure we have down pat."

Other subjects addressed by Hilton today included:

The transition taking place in the secondary: "We have a lot of guys coming in, a lot of guys playing different positions but we're all confident in each other. 'Mo' (veteran free agent safety Morgan Burnett) has been great since he got here. He's made a lot of plays for us. (Cornerback) Cam (Sutton) is a versatile guy we like to use. Everybody has been doing a lot of great things."

The implementation of the defense during OTAs: "I'd say probably 60 to 65 percent of the defense (has been installed). We have a lot of different, new things we're going to put in later in the season."

What the six-defensive backs "dime" package might look like when the Steelers get around to working on it: "A lot of DBs on the field and a lot of speed on the field. It's something we're gonna use and I feel like can really help our defense."

His approach after collecting two interceptions and registering four sacks as the slot cornerback in 2017, his first season with the Steelers: "I still have the same mindset as last year. Nobody cares what you did in the past, it's what you can do for me now. I'm focused going into the season, I'm ready."

On whether seven defensive backs at a time will be an option this season: "It's possible because we have guys that can play inside linebacker (Burnett, first-round safety Terrell Edmunds and fifth-round safety Marcus Allen), big guys that can run."