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No defined role for Steelers’ injured safety Morgan Burnett

November 10, 2018

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 27th-ranked pass defense could use a boost heading into the final 10 weeks of the season. Whether it will be provided by veteran safety Morgan Burnett continues to remain a mystery.

Burnett has missed four consecutive games with a groin injury and was a partial participant in the first practice after the bye week. The Steelers return to practice Wednesday as they prepare to play the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

Coach Mike Tomlin was asked at his weekly press conference Tuesday what kind of role Burnett might have when he returns. Rookie first-round pick Terrell Edmunds has started in Burnett’s absence.

“That is going to be determined as he displays availability,” Tomlin said. “That availability is being able to put consecutive practice days together. We’re going to give him the opportunity to practice. We gave him an opportunity to practice yesterday in a partial capacity -- not at the expense of others because he hasn’t proven that consistent availability yet. As he does, then we’ll infuse him in and potentially define a role for him and get him ready to play.”

In his final of eight seasons with Green Bay, Burnett missed two games because of a hamstring injury and another two because of a groin injury. The Steelers envisioned Burnett, with his 6-foot-1, 209-pound frame, moving into a hybrid linebacker role in subpackages while also starting at strong safety.

His next start, however, will be his second with the Steelers.

“He’s a veteran player, he’s very good above the neck, but the first thing first is the consistent health, being able to walk on the field, participate, walk off the field and repeat process,” Tomlin said.

Linebacker L.J. Fort (ankle) and wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey (ankle) were limited participants Monday and could play Sunday depending on how they progress in practice the rest of the week. Heyward-Bey has missed the past two games and Fort one.

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