LeClaire / USA TODAY Sports Images

Artie Burns participated in first full Steelers practice in 25 days

Rookie cornerback practices, makes a big play and expects heavy workload Thursday in highlighting Sunday's notebook

PITTSBURGH -- Both Cam Heyward and Marcus Gilbert -- key Steelers linemen who were injured Friday in New Orleans -- vowed they would play in two weeks in the season opener in Washington.

That came as no surprise to the head man as he patrolled the locker room after Sunday afternoon's steamy practice.

"Of course they will," said Mike Tomlin. "Shoot, it's Monday night football."

Another injured -- rather, formerly injured -- player made a vow Sunday afternoon, but Artie Burns instead promised to play Thursday night in the final game of the preseason at Carolina.

Burns completed his first full practice in 25 days, as this year's first-round draft pick confirmed that he lined up as the second-team right cornerback behind Will Gay.

"Yeah, I'm going to play a whole lot," Burns said about Thursday night. "They might not take me out the whole game. They're going to kill me."

Burns has missed time with an injured thigh but said "it felt good" at Sunday's practice. He even returned a Bryn Renner interception some 35 yards for a touchdown.

Did the big play mean anything to Burns?

"It means a little something to get my hands on the ball," Burns said. "But they don't pay me to get picks in practice."

They do pay first-round picks quite well to at least practice, so that step has been accomplished.

Burns was asked if he had fallen behind by missing so much time.

"Yeah, of course I fell behind," he said. "But I got my mental reps in so I'll be able to pick up everything real fast. I'm pretty confident about that."

Burns is also looking forward to taking reps once again against Antonio Brown in preparation for Thursday's game.

"I'll get a couple of chances to line up against him,' Burns said. "I'm excited. I'm excited about my first NFL game and showing everybody what I've got."


The other half of the young rush-and-cover duo which has been missing so much practice time, Bud Dupree, last year's first-round draft pick, confirmed that he scrimmaged Sunday for the first time since early in training camp. Dupree said he merely took a few reps with the scout team against the Steelers' scheduled starters for Thursday night.

"It was a little baby step," Dupree said. "I'm just trying to get any reps I can and get back, movement-wise, without re-injuring it."

Dupree has missed most of camp, after missing most of the spring workouts, with a groin injury that he said last week may keep him out of the opening game.

"It's still the same," he said of that question mark.

As for the other injuries, Gilbert hyperextended his elbow and Heyward suffered a mild high-ankle sprain Thursday night.

"I'll be there no matter what," Gilbert said of the opener.

"I've got superhuman abilities," said Heyward. "I take pride in not missing games. It's Week One. I'm going to be there."

Another starter, wide receiver Markus Wheaton, who injured his shoulder Friday, wasn't available in the locker room Sunday.


Le'Veon Bell touched the ball eight times Friday in what likely was his only appearance of the preseason.

Included in his 58 yards from scrimmage was a run for 12 yards and a catch for 13 yards.

His favorite play?

"The block," Bell said. "That was my favorite play, for sure."

Bell pancaked New Orleans defensive end Cameron Jordan while in pass protection for a short Ben Roethlisberger pass to Brown during the Steelers' first drive.

The two-handed punch was sudden and knocked Jordan straight back on his rear end.

Was Bell surprised?

"Nah," he said. "But he probably was."

Bell stepped up as right tackle Gilbert dropped back at an angle to form a pocket. Jordan was rushing around Gilbert's right shoulder when Bell popped him.

"I was going to chip him but I saw the way he was rushing and Gil hadn't put his hands on him yet," Bell said. "I saw him rushing out of the corner of my eyes so I kind of stopped and gave him all I had, because I wasn't about to get out too quick on my route. I unloaded right under his chin and he lost all his balance and it was over."


The Steelers added punter Will Monday to the list of cuts they had announced earlier Sunday in getting down to 79 players.

The Steelers placed offensive tackle Jerald Hawkins on the Reserve/Injured List, while quarterback Dustin Vaughan was Waived/Injured.

The team also released linebackers Jordan Zumwalt and Mike Reilly, wide receivers Issac Blakeney and Levi Norwood, tight end Michael Cooper, defensive end Giorgio Newberry, defensive tackle Khaynin Mosley-Smith, and cornerback Julian Whigham.

The Steelers must get their roster down to 75 players by 4 p.m. Tuesday.

Steel City Insider Top Stories