Steelers training camp preview: All eyes on free safety spot
The Tribune-Review will examine each position on the Steelers roster as they prepare to report for training camp July 25 at Saint Vincent. Today’s installment looks at the seven safeties:
Sean Davis: After the release of Mike Mitchell, Robert Golden and J.J. Wilcox, Davis is only safety on the roster who played in the Steelers secondary last season. Entering his third season, Davis could move to free safety to replace Mitchell.
Morgan Burnett: His eight-year tenure in Green Bay ended when the Steelers gave him a three-year contract in free agency. The hope is he will be an upgrade over Mitchell, who was prone to giving up big plays in his final year with the Steelers. Burnett also can play free or strong safety, and his spot will be decided in training camp.
Jordan Dangerfield: He returned to the practice squad with the Steelers after he was re-signed in mid-October, yet he never was promoted to the active roster. This was a departure from 2016, when Dangerfield made his first 13 NFL appearances. The Steelers gave Dangerfield first-team snaps in minicamp while Burnett sat out with an injury.
Nat Berhe: He was the “other” safety signed in free agency. Berhe became a special teams dynamo with the New York Giants and earned the nickname “The Missile” for his thundering hits. Berhe joined the Steelers because of a chance to earn an expanded role. Given the other offseason additions, that might be a difficulty for Berhe.
Terrell Edmunds: With their top inside linebacker choices off the board, the Steelers used their first pick to select the next best thing in Edmunds, who could fill a hybrid linebacker/safety role with the Steelers. In offseason practices, the packages were vanilla as the Steelers opted to save formations with six and sometimes seven defensive backs until training camp. Edmunds worked with the second team but is expected to take on a bigger role as he grasps the playbook.
Marcus Allen: The Steelers doubled down on the position when they grabbed the former Penn State safety in the fifth round. At 6-foot-2, Allen is the tallest safety on the roster, and he was known for his physicality in college. That will come in handy on special teams and perhaps certain subpackages.
On camp roster
Malik Golden: Signed early in training camp last year, Golden was waived/injured during roster cuts. The former Penn State player was brought back with a futures contract in January.
Who will wind up at free safety?
The reconfigured secondary will have plenty of new faces entering training camp. The free safety spot will be perhaps the mostly intently watched position in the preseason. Burnett, because of his experience, could get the first crack. Davis, though, has a skill set that also is suited to play off the line of scrimmage.
Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at email@example.com or via Twitter @tribjoerutter.