Steelers notebook: Morgan Burnett digs return to Green Bay

September 1, 2018

Morgan Burnett wasn’t expecting to see his face on the scoreboard Thursday night at Lambeau Field, or the Green Bay Packers to recognize the eight years he spent in Wisconsin.

The Packers welcomed back the Pittsburgh Steelers safety after the third quarter of the preseason game. Burnett smiled and waved to the crowd in appreciation.

“That totally surprised me,” Burnett said. “Good thing I wasn’t digging up my nose or anything.”

Before signing with the Steelers in free agency in March, Burnett spent the first eight years of his NFL career in Green Bay. He earned a Super Bowl ring in 2010, his rookie season, when the Packers defeated the Steelers, although Burnett finished that year on injured reserve.

“I had some special years there, a lot of great years there, a lot of great memories, and we won a lot of games,” Burnett said. “A lot of my dearest friends are on that team over there. Lambeau Field will always hold a special place in my heart.”

The tribute was one of the few positives from Burnett’s homecoming. He was part of a defense that was responsible for allowing 37 of the Packers’ 51 points. Burnett played 27 snaps in the first half when the Packers scored on five of their six possessions to take a 34-14 lead.

Coach Mike Tomlin said one of the issues was that the Steelers secondary lost leverage on matchups against the Packers wide receivers.

Burnett , who had four tackles and a sack against the Packers, said the problems were too numerous to single out just one.

“Penalties hurt us,” he said. “It was technique and losing leverage, those type of things. Turning the ball over. Those are things we can learn from. The key thing is how you respond. That’s how you go into the work week.”

Short-term memory for Conner

Running back James Conner isn’t putting too much of an emphasis on the work he’s done in the Steelers’ first two preseason games.

Conner has gained 82 yards rushing on nine carries, or more than nine yards per attempt. Against the Packers, Conner carried five times for 57 yards. He had a 24-yard burst that set up his 26-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.

“I’m trying to be accountable,” Conner said. “Just earning the respect of my teammates and show them that I’m capable of playing with this group.”

Conner continues to show that he can complement running back Le’Veon Bell, who is sitting out the preseason for the second consecutive year.

“I thought he represented himself in a similar manner as he has throughout this process, whether it’s on the practice field of Latrobe or last week,” Tomlin said. “I’ve been pleased with the progress he’s making, and it just needs to continue.”

Conner shares that sentiment. When asked if he feels good about what he’s done, Conner responded: “Short-term memory. Watch the film and correct mistakes and move on.”

But weren’t Conner’s mistakes negligible?

“Yeah, I had my first touchdown and everything, all that’s good, but we didn’t win the game and we’ve still got a lot of work to do,” he said. “I had a ball come loose. Short-term memory.”

Family Fest on tap

The second Family Fest practice at Heinz Field will be held Sunday from 5 to 9 p.m., with activities on Art Rooney Avenue beforehand and a fireworks display after.

Admission is $10 for all fans and can be purchased at ticketmaster.com or at the Steelers ticket office

The team’s six Lombardi trophies will be on display in the FedEx Great Hall, and Steelers alumni will be on hand. Fans can win sideline passes to watch the practice from field level, a signed practice jersey and a trip for four to Super Bowl LII in Atlanta.

A parade of champions for Special Olympics athletes will take place prior to Steelers player introductions.

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