The former first-round pick was late to a team activity last week, according to sources. That could explain why Burns, despite making five starts this season, did not play a single snap on defense in Sunday’s 33-18 win over the Cleveland Browns.
One source said that activity was a pregame walk-through.
The Steelers had hoped Burns would break out in his third year in the league, but after an impressive training camp, he lost his starting job to Coty Sensabaugh in Week 3. Over the following three weeks, Burns and Sensabaugh have played in a rotation with Burns getting the start.
Sensabaugh, a seven-year veteran, played most of the Cleveland game. Cam Sutton entered the game at cornerback when Sensabaugh hurt his foot in the second half.
Burns told reporters he had to attend a team meeting when approached during Monday’s open locker room session.
Burns gave up a touchdown and a crucial penalty in Week 6 against the Cincinnati Bengals but had productive practices last week, telling ESPN he secured an interception on Thursday.
That same day, defensive coordinator Keith Butler said he expected Burns to learn from his mistakes.
“I think he’s gotten better over the last week or two in terms of learning to play a little bit better with technique and I think he’ll be OK,” Butler said. “I think any player that stays any length of time in the NFL, makes mistakes and either corrects those mistakes or he’s not going to have a job and that is just the nature of the League. I think Artie [Burns] is up for that. I think he will try to change and do better than he has done. I think he’s a competitor. I think it bothers him to get beat deep like with anyone else, but I think he’ll fight back.”
The Steelers selected Burns No. 25 overall in the 2016 draft. Burns recorded 26 pass deflections and four interceptions during his first two seasons but has one pass deflection, zero interceptions and a forced fumble this year.