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Division of labor

The lineup is changing and might continue to the rest of the way.

The constant is the improvement the Steelers have been showing on defense in general and in the secondary in particular during their current four-game winning streak.

"I think it's just guys growing together, getting more comfortable playing with each other and just trusting the guy next to him," cornerback Coty Sensabaugh observed recently.

"I feel like earlier on in the season, we were all trying to somewhat make plays that weren't our specific play to make. Over the last couple weeks we're just trusting the guy next to us and focusing on what it is we specifically have to do."

The specifics of Sensabaugh's job description at present are to line up as the starting right cornerback. After splitting snaps with starter Artie Burns beginning with the Steelers' Sept. 24 visit to Tampa, Sensabaugh handled the position on Oct. 28 against Cleveland (Burns was benched for disciplinary reasons) and again last Sunday in Baltimore, when Burns was an option but wasn't called upon.

There's been no official promotion to starter for Sensabaugh, but head coach Mike Tomlin apparently doesn't think such a declaration is necessary.

"You tell me based on usage," Tomlin said after Sensabaugh played 98 percent of the defensive snaps and Burns none against the Ravens.

Sensabaugh has vowed to concern himself only with how he plays and not how much he plays.

"I go out there and prepare every day like I'm going to be the guy. Whenever my opportunity comes I just try to take advantage of it.

"I don't think too much about that. I just focus on getting better every day and I can live with the results, whatever they are."

Another change might be on the way at strong safety.

Rookie No. 1 pick Terrell Edmunds has started seven of the first eight games.

But with veteran free-agent addition Morgan Burnett having returned and played in the six-defensive backs sub-package in the Steelers' wins over Cleveland and Baltimore following a four-game absence, Tomlin is considering an alteration in that rotation.

"Edmunds has done a ice job," Tomlin maintained. "But I'm not going to forget why he's in the lineup down in and down out, and that is because Morgan has been hurt."

Burnett has been happy to contribute in any capacity.

"I'm good with whatever's going to help this team win," he said. "I'm a team player and I feel like everyone has an important role, an important job on this team.

"Whatever is asked from me each week, I'm going to try my best to do it to the best of my ability and be accountable as a teammate."

Edmunds played all 61 defensive snaps in Baltimore (free safety Sean Davis was the only other Steelers player to do so) but doesn't count on playing a specific number from week to week.

"Really, it's however the coach feels that week," Edmunds said. "Any week anybody can start because we have good players in the secondary. If Morgan's not doing the best or I'm not doing the best in practice, then that (other) man is going to start.

"But we're all going to play at the end of the day because we all need each other."