Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Rookie Corner Sits Again First-Rounder Burns Held out, Further Thinning Defensive Backfield

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Rookie Corner Sits Again First-Rounder Burns Held out, Further Thinning Defensive Backfield

Article excerpt

Rookie Artie Burns missed yet another practice Tuesday with his new teammates, and somehow the Steelers do not seem ready to push the cornerback panic button.

Today could be a different story, once they start really seeing what they do not have when they play their first preseason game against the Detroit Lions Friday night at Heinz Field.

Burns planned to return to practice, but a nagging thigh injury kept the first-round draft pick again on the sideline, where he has spent most of his first summer camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe. This one day after cornerback Senquez Golson, the Steelers' No. 2 pick last year, had surgery to repair a Lisfranc injury that is likely to put him on the shelf for a second full season.

It has become a clich, but Steelers are really thin at cornerback.

"I would say a little bit, yeah," defensive coordinator Keith Butler acknowledged Tuesday.

That is not much different than the past few training camps. It became so obvious a year ago that on Aug. 1, they traded a fifth-round draft choice to Philadelphia for since-departed Brandon Boykin, and on Sept. 5, they signed Ross Cockrell after Buffalo cut him.

Cockrell wound up starting seven games last season. Right now he and William Gay are their starting cornerbacks and no one is pushing them. The only one really left to provide some competition would be Burns if he could ever get started on that task.

The situation has become acute enough that rookie safety Sean Davis, their No. 2 pick, looks to be their best option as the slot cornerback.

The Steelers are ripe to make a trade for a cornerback, if there are any out there worth it and available. Also if they are not gun-shy from the wool the Eagles pulled over their eyes a year ago by offering Boykin, who had hip problems and struggled staying upright in coverage.

"We have to find who that third guy is going to be," Butler said. "Hopefully, it's going to be Artie."

The rest of the competition at cornerback in Latrobe includes Doran Grant, Donald Washington, Montel Garner, Al-Haji Shabazz and the latest, Kevin White, signed one week ago today. …

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