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Morgan Burnett’s return gives the Steelers defense more versatility

November 15, 2018

Saying “everything went well this week” in regards to his return to a full complement of practices while with a nagging groin injury, safety Morgan Burnett will to return to the Pittsburgh Steelers defense on Sunday.

“It’s good to get back into the flow of things and get back into a normal work week,” Burnett said after practice Friday.

Burnett had not been listed as a full participant for any Steelers practice over the entire month of October (his most recent time being Sept. 26) until he made it through the past three days unscathed.

He had twice previously tried to practice - but within the ensuing 24 hours each time, was shut down again.

“It wasn’t quite ready yet,” Burnett said of his groin, “and my body made sure it let me know that.”

Not this time. And although rookie Terrell Edmunds has said he will retain the starting job at strong safety, Burnett is in line to play a significant role during Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns.

The Steelers’ biggest offseason signing in free agency, Burnett has been limited to two games and one start over the first six games of the season.

“As a competitor you want to be out there, you don’t want to miss anything,” Burnett said. “But I understand that comes with the game, this is a physical game, you demand a lot from your body.”

In Burnett, the Steelers get a nine-year veteran who they signed in March to a contract worth more than $14 million. While first-round pick Edmunds has performed admirably at strong safety, Burnett’s availability options myriad of options for defensive coordinator Keith Butler.

The Steelers experimented with new six- and seven-DB packages during training camp, and Burnett’s unique skillset as a big rangy safety who can tackle can open up different schematics.

“Morgan brings versatility,” slot cornerback Mike Hilton said. “He’s a guy that can cover a tight end, he’s a guy who can cover wideouts and he’s a guy who can still play in the box and be effective. So he brings a lot to the table, and he’s going to be a big help to our defense.”

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