Starting to feel at home

He's started five of the first six games, but Terrell Edmunds still isn't yet ready to declare himself the Steelers' starter at strong safety.

"Honestly, I don't know how to answer that question," the Steelers' No. 1 pick insisted.

Edmunds was drafted 28th overall back in April, and the plan was to prepare him to contribute sooner rather than later.

When training camp opened, veteran Morgan Burnett a free-agent addition from Green Bay was the starter at the position.

The initial plan was to play Burnett in the base defense and insert Edmunds in a six-defensive backs sub-package.

But Burnett has been hobbled by injuries since the early days at St.Vincent College. He came off the bench in the regular-season opener on Sept. 9 at Cleveland, started the following Sunday against Kansas City and hasn't seen the field since.

"While I'm right there you know I'm going to hold it down," Edmunds continued. "And then once he comes back, it's going to be the coach's decision. I'm going to still put my all out there. It's going to be a dogfight to see who gets out on the field.

"It's my spot right now. It's both of our's spot, you could really say. But right now, while i'm in the game, it's my spot."

Burnett (groin) wasn't able to practice to practice in the days leading up to the Steelers' 28-21 win on Oct. 14 at Cincinnati, but he was listed as a full participant today.

The next step for him will be to do it again.

"He hasn't proven that consistent availability yet," head coach Mike Tomlin observed this week regarding Burnett. "As he does, then we will infuse him and potentially define a role for him and get him ready to play.

"He is very good above the neck. The first thing, though, is the consistent health, being able to walk on the field, participate, walk off the field and repeat the process."

Edmunds' on-the-job training through the first six games has produced 21 tackles (tied for fourth on the team), an interception and a fumble recovery (tied with three others for the team lead in both categories).

He'll emerge from last weekend's bye a more comfortable and a more confident player heading into Sunday's rematch with Cleveland.

"The pace is slowing down for me," Edmunds said. "I think you could tell by the last three games or so. I'm getting to the ball better, my reads are coming better, everything is just slowing down. I'm becoming a pro now.

"As a defense we're coming together better, too. You can see we're all feeling more comfortable out there together. We've been ballin' these last few games, that's what we want to keep on doing."

The Steelers' win against the Bengals, coupled with losses last Sunday by the Ravens and Bengals, elevated the Steelers into first place in the AFC North Division.

But with a trip to Baltimore looming after the Browns' visit to Heinz Field on Sunday, Edmunds is well aware this is no time for anyone to take their foot off the gas pedal.

"It's really getting exciting now," he said. "AFC North, everybody in the locker room, everybody in the building is amped up for those games. Now, you really see the intensity of the games, how much they actually mean.

"We put ourselves in a good position. We just have to keep on ballin', win out in the AFC North and everything else will just roll over from there."

The Steelers prepare for the week 8 matchup against the Cleveland Browns.

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