A week into training camp, and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ highest-profile free-agent addition has made it through one practice. But Morgan Burnett insists it will take more than a stubborn left hamstring to bring him down.
“Frustration is not going to speed anything up,” the veteran safety said of his recovery, “so I just try to get a positive outlook on things and find ways to get better..”
For the fifth consecutive practice, Burnett on Wednesday stood on the sidelines and watched team drills. At least he was able to do stretches and light individual drills for the second practice in a row, and late in Wednesday’s session he ran on a far field.
But the nine-year NFL veteran has been relegated to an onlooker as the Steelers defensive backfield continues its evolution under a new position coach and with four new players. While Burnett has 102 games of NFL experience, those all were with the Green Bay Packers.
So in his first camp with a new team, is it more important he learns about his new teammates or that they get to know him?
“Both,” Burnett said. “We are all getting to know and understand each other, and that’s for anybody who’s new here.”
Burnett and Nat Berhe were safeties brought in as free agents, and safeties Terrell Edmunds and Marcus Allen were drafted.
Sometimes, injured players don’t even make their way to the practice field during camp, or if they do, they stand off on their own. While Burnett has been injured, he typically has stood in the middle of the defense on the sidelines during practice, chatting up teammates.
“You just got to stand and find ways to get reps mentally,” said Burnett, who signed a three-year, $14.5 million contract in March. “Of course you want to get out there and fly around as soon as possible, but at the same time you have got to listen to your body and take the right proper steps so you don’t have any setbacks.”
Tomlin has repeatedly downplayed the seriousness of Burnett’s injury, and Burnett is making obvious progress and appears close to a return.
That said, with first-round pick Edmunds standing out in Burnett’s place as the first-team strong safety, it’s not totally out of the realm of possibility Burnett gets Wally Pipp-ed and loses his starting job before he even officially had it.
Like Edmunds, Burnett is still learning the intricacies of the defense.
“Things are the same (as in Green Bay), but it’s just learning the different terminology and learning the different language as far as communication and everything,” Burnett said.
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.