Davis staying engaged with Lake

Sean Davis has picked up at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex where he had left off at Saint Vincent College.

The Steelers prepare for the Week 3 preseason matchup against the New Orleans Saints.

As he had in training camp, the rookie No. 2 pick from Maryland is making a habit of standing next to defensive backs coach Carnell Lake during practices. If Davis isn't taking a rep as the first-team nickel cornerback or as a second-team safety, he's often standing next to Lake, who observes practices from well behind the defense in the center of the field.

It's as if Davis is Lake's shadow at times.

"It's voluntary on his part," Lake said. "I didn't ask him to stand next to me. He's doing that on his own because he wants to talk through each play. It's kind of like he's getting extra reps with coaching right there.

"I had more guys but it got too busy back there. But he wouldn't go away. I'm not going to fight that, I think it's a good thing.

"He asks questions or I might ask him a question, 'Tell me what you see.' We'll just have a conversation about a particular defense or a play. He's kind of learning when he's not in. It's a good way for him to stay engaged throughout the whole practice."

Davis got first crack at first-team nickel after cornerback Senquez Golson was lost to a Lisfranc injury.

That means Davis is trying to assume what amounts to a starting position as a rookie.

"The nickel is playing over 60 percent of the time," Lake said. "Last year it was almost 70 percent. If you're playing that much on the field it's like you're a starter."

Lake started as a rookie in 1989 after making the transition from linebacker to safety as a No. 2 pick out of UCLA.

So he knows it can be done.

"I had a lot of belief in my abilities," Lake said. "And fortunately for me I had good coaching and I had guys like (cornerback Rod) Woodson, (safety) Thomas Everett, (cornerback) Dwayne Woodruff, old guys that I could really learn a lot from that were savvy, that knew the game.

"A lot of it is having a big understanding of the game. It's not just physical talent. If you can combine the two you've got something and I think Sean Davis has the two. He has a lot of physical abilities and he's pretty sharp to pick up the defense pretty well.

"Only time will tell but I think he's on the right track. I keep telling him every day, 'Turn yourself loose. Don't worry so much about making mistakes. Let your abilities shine and you'll get the understanding, it'll come.'"

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