The Seattle Seahawks are dealing with a litany of injuries in the secondary, including standout rookie Devon Witherspoon, who has a hip injury. Witherspoon has a hip injury that kept him out against the Titans, and head coach Pete Carroll seemed to be concerned about the injury and its prognosis for the future.
While Tariq Woolen, Coby Bryant, and Michael Jackson help as well, Witherspoon’s injury allowed a role for a familiar face. It’s former Steelers first-round pick Artie Burns who has stepped up in the slot without Witherspoon. He had eight tackles against the Tennessee Titans in their 20-17 win. Burns has transformed his career from one that started out as a player who was labeled a bust, and has turned into an ideal special teamer and dependable backup in Seattle.
In the last two weeks, Burns has allowed six receptions on seven targets for 50 yards. He has not allowed a touchdown and is limiting yards after the catch. And at the very least, he is giving the Seahawks the competitive reps they need, but a game against his former team the Steelers presents a unique opportunity for Burns to make a little bit of a statement to the team who drafted him.
Burns, 28, was the Steelers’ first-round draft pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, but he lost his starting job in Pittsburgh by the end of his tenure, which triggered the Steelers to decline the fifth-year option on his rookie contract. They let him walk, and he signed with the Bears. Burns suffered a torn ACL in Chicago but was able to battle in Seattle’s training camp and earn a roster spot for the last two seasons.
His rookie season in 2016 was a bright spot in a lackluster tenure in Pittsburgh. He played in all 16 games and made 65 tackles, 52 solo and also made 3 interceptions.
Burns started all 16 games as a second-year player in 2017, but in 2018, he was supplanted by veteran Coty Sensabaugh, and in 2019, the Steelers acquired Steven Nelson as a free agent, leaving Burns with minimal playing time. In 2019, he played in 10 games and made one start, recording a total of just eight tackles.
Diontae Johnson and George Pickens will be instrumental, as always, in helping the Steelers win against the Seahawks. Their battle with Burns is one to watch in a must-win game for Pittsburgh.