Keep on working: Artie Burns has had his struggles this season, prompting Coach Mike Tomlin to work a rotation system at cornerback, with Coty Sensabaugh and Cameron Sutton all getting playing time, and Sensabaugh starting against Tampa earlier in the season. Burns said after losing that starting job for a game it was either going to make him or break him, and Tomlin said he still wants to see how the young corner does this week before determining how playing time will be decided.
“We’ll determine that with the quality of his work and the work of others in practice,” said Tomlin. “He’s got to keep working. He’s got to smile in the face of adversity. Young guys in the National Football League go through periods, lulls in play, particularly in the secondary position, particularly at the cornerback positon. You see it time and time again. Oftentimes their careers are defined by how they respond to it, how they smile in the face of the adversity. How they remain unwavered, how they continue to work through the misery.
“He’ll be given that opportunity. He has been given that opportunity. I like the way he’s worked. The other guys have been given the same opportunity. We’ll just keep punching the clock. I know when you step in the stadium, and you step across that white line, you have an opportunity to show that growth. When you have negative plays on tape at the cornerback position, people are going to throw at you, and that’s how it goes.”
On the run: When you hear the team’s offensive linemen talk about James Conner, the one thing they always point to is what a hard runner he is. That isn’t anything that surprises Tomlin, who saw that during his career at the University of Pittsburgh, and continues to see it on display each week.
“Man that guy ran hard at Pitt,” said Tomlin. “I assume he ran hard in high school at Erie. That is one of his calling cards. He is who he is in that regard.”
Successful switch: The Steelers flipped things around at outside linebacker during the offseason, moving T.J. Watt from the right side to the left, and Bud Dupree from left to right.
It appears to be paying dividends, with Watt third on the team in tackles with 31, while leading the defense with six sacks. Dupree is tied for second on the team with three sacks, while adding 19 tackles, six quarterback pressures, and an interception return for a touchdown.
“We’re comfortable with the move,” said Tomlin. “We’ll continue to watch it. We’re not opposed to doing anything, the movement of anyone to better us. It’s been helpful thus far. By no means are we married to it. If nothing else, it’s shown us both guys are flexible. And it’s probably going to provide opportunity for us from a physical matchup standpoint over the second half of the year of maybe allowing Bud to matchup against tackles he matches up against from a skill, talent or physical standpoint and the same for TJ.”