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Steelers

Artie Burns joins Joe Haden as injured Steelers starting CBs

Chris Adamski
| Friday, Sept. 14, 2018, 5:45 p.m.
Steelers cornerback Artie Burns draws an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after slamming his helmet next to the Browns' Jarvis Landry during the third quarter Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018, at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Steelers cornerback Artie Burns draws an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after slamming his helmet next to the Browns' Jarvis Landry during the third quarter Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018, at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland.

The Pittsburgh Steelers feel as if they possess good depth at cornerback. Sunday, it is increasingly appearing as if they better.

Artie Burns joined Joe Haden as starting cornerbacks who are injured, and that could leave the Steelers without both for their home opener Sunday against the high-octane Kansas City Chiefs offense.

Burns was a limited practice participant Friday because of a toe injury believed to have been suffered during the session. He is officially listed on the Steelers’ injury report as questionable to play Sunday.

Haden completed a week in which he did not practice at all following a hamstring injury suffered during last weekend’s season-opening tie at Cleveland.

“Whoever’s in there, we’re ready to go,” veteran Coty Sensabaugh said of the secondary. “We’re gonna be ready to go, and we’re looking forward to the challenge of this game.”

Led by strong-armed second-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs put up 38 points in a road victory against the Los Angeles Chargers last week. Mahomes completed four passes of at least 30 yards, three of them to Tyreek Hill, one of the NFL’s fastest players.

Sensabaugh and Cameron Sutton are the Steelers’ No. 3-4 cornerbacks and would carry much-increased roles of Burns and Haden do not play.

Neither would confirm who is the “next man up” if only one starter is scratched Sunday (almost certainly, Haden, in that case); it was Sutton who took Haden’s spot after he was injured in the second half against the Browns. Sensabaugh was not active for that game, but top slot corner Mike Hilton confirmed earlier this week that Sensabaugh was getting first-team cornerback reps while Burns was practicing and Haden was not.

Sutton said he took practice reps this week at both outside corner spots, in the slot and as a dome defensive back (hybrid linebacker).

“It’s just playing football; whether I will be at corner or nickel or dime or whatever, you know what the deal is,” Sutton said. “I feel like I am already step ahead as far as putting myself in position to make the play.”

A third-round pick who spent the first half of his 2017 rookie season on injured reserve, Sutton has one career start – against the New England Patriots in Week 15 last season. He also split time with Sensabaugh in three other 2017 games while Haden was out because of injury – the latter of which playing the entire second half in lieu of seven-year veteran Sensabaugh.

Four of Sensabaugh’s 33 career starts came last season for the Steelers, his first with the team.

If Haden does not play Sunday, it will be the 20 th game of the past 50 he has missed because of injury. He has not played in all 16 games of a season since his rookie 2010 season for the Browns, for which he played 2010-16.

Burns has never missed a game in his career since being the Steelers’ first-round pick in 2016.

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Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris at cadamski@tribweb.com or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.

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