UNITY TWP., Pa. — The 2018 Pittsburgh Steelers had eight interceptions, which was the fifth-fewest total in the NFL.
In 2019, the Steelers are determined to increase that total.
The first step was the acquisition of free agent corner Steven Nelson, who had four all by himself for the Kansas City Chiefs last season and is expected to start opposite veteran Joe Haden.
But beyond that, the returning Steelers defensive backs are focused on grabbing more passing this coming season. For the most part, the team’s belief is that they put themselves into good position to make more picks than they did a year ago, but fell short in one crucial area: catching the ball.
So that’s the mantra of the defense backs corps this training camp: catch the ones that come to you.
“Just look back at last year,” strong safety Terrell Edmunds said. “We had a lot of balls that came to us that we just dropped.”
So far, that focus on receptions has led to long lines at the Juggs machine, with defensive backs taking reps at what is normally a wide receiver’s forte. It’s also meant for some punishment for those that fail to meet that expectation.
During Monday’s practice, dime corner Cameron Sutton had a gift-wrapped interception that would have easily gone for a defensive touchdown that clanged off his hands and hit the turf.
Immediately after, so did Sutton, as he performed some push-ups to atone for his misdeed. So far, that’s as far as the punishment has gotten. Well, that and some good-natured teasing.
“He didn’t do it,” Edmunds said. “He had to give us some push-ups. … Right now, it’s just push-ups at you get laughed at in the film room the second day.”
But Edmunds knows that if the Steelers are able to make those plays when the regular season starts, no one is going to be laughing.
“If we just made the plays that came to us, who knows how far we would have went?” he posited. “That’s the main focus. When you get a may, make the play, and don’t be happy for making a play that you should’ve made.”