If needed, Artie Burns ‘definitely ready’ for return to Steelers’ first-team defense
If Joe Haden’s shoulder does not agree with him in time for Sunday’s home opener against the Seattle Seahawks, a familiar but forgotten face would be back in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ first-team secondary.
Artie Burns would be the proverbial next man up at outside cornerback if Haden cannot play.
“I’m definitely looking forward to it, if I get that chance,” Burns said Friday after practice. “Being out for a while, yeah for sure… I am definitely ready, whenever my opportunity comes.”
A former first-round pick in 2016, Burns started at outside cornerback from midway through his rookie year until Week 6 of last season when he was benched in favor of Coty Sensabaugh.
The Steelers in May declined Burns’ fifth-year contract option, meaning he is due to become a free agent in the spring. But the organization kept him around long enough to pay him a roster bonus in July, and a strong training camp earned Burns a roster spot and role as a special-teamer and reserve cornerback.
“It is what it is,” Burns said of clawing his way back after his demotion. “If there’s something you really want you to do, you go do it. That’s how I see it.”
1. Artie Burns got his starting job back against the Patriots.
2. Artie Burns lost his starting job while playing the Patriots. https://t.co/HvNbcm36dS
— Tribune-ReviewSports (@TribSports) December 17, 2018
Haden is listed as questionable to play Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks. Over the past two months, Burns has taken reps as the first-team outside cornerback any time Haden has missed practice reps or preseason games because of injury.
“I am very confident in Artie,” Haden said. “He’s been doing great. OTA’s, training camp, he’s been locked in, focused, making a lot of plays, He’s been taking it very, very seriously, so I know he’s ready whenever his number is called.”
It should be noted, though, that the most recent time Burns was given back a prominent role on the defense, it lasted only four snaps after the New England Patriots had a long touchdown early in a December game last season .
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .