Steelers’ Mike Tomlin Describes Starting Safety’s ‘Best Ability’

Steelers safeties Terrell Edmunds and Minkah Fitzpatrick

Julio Aguilar/Getty Images Minkah Fitzpatrick (#39) celebrates with Terrell Edmunds (#34) of the Pittsburgh Steelers after Edmunds' second-half interception against the Jacksonville Jaguars on November 22, 2020.

The first question asked of Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin at his post-game press conference on Sunday related to third-year safety Terrell Edmunds. Specifically, Tomlin was asked: “How has he progressed year-over-year, and in what ways?”

It was a perfectly reasonable question, considering that Edmunds played a pivotal role in Pittsburgh’s 27-3 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, contributing four tackles and two interceptions, one coming when he knocked a pass out of the air with one hand, enabling him to come down with the interception.

“You know, this guy has logged a bunch of snaps. I think his best ability is availability when you really look at his career,” began Tomlin. “As a young guy, he has logged a bunch of snaps and over the course of time he has gained quality experience because of it and he has taken that experience and continually made himself a better player really in all areas….”

Then the Steelers head coach went on to elaborate, saying, “I can’t say enough about his run game fits and the way he is playing in that element of the game here in 2020. But largely his game has always been on the upswing because he is a young guy that … is always available. And when you are very available and diligent it’s reasonable to expect your play to improve and his has.”

Terrell Edmunds: A Disappointing Draft Pick?

Never mind that many NFL observers consider Edmunds, still only 23 years old, to be a disappointment relative to his draft position, as he was selected in the first round (28th overall) in the 2018 NFL Draft.

His critics include Pro Football Focus, which over the summer discussed him as an excellent candidate for the strong safety spot on a hypothetical ‘all-average team,’ keeping good company with Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey.

But on Sunday Edmunds produced the kind of big plays that earn positive notice, including the following second-quarter interception:

Terrell Edmunds’ ‘Availability,’ Salary

As for his availability on game day, that has never been in doubt. Despite being little more than halfway through his third season, Edmunds has already played in 42 games with 39 starts and coming into Sunday’s contest he had 223 total tackles (157 solo). Yet he’s produced relatively few “splash plays,” as Tomlin would put it, credited with a mere 12 passes defensed, two sacks, six quarterback hits, four tackles for loss, one fumble recovery and one interception.

But against the Jags he tripled his career interception total—and with the help of starting free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick (who also had two interceptions)—the Steelers held Jaguars rookie quarterback Jake Luton to a 43.2% completion percentage, 133 net yards and a passer rating of 15.5.

It’s never too soon for Edmunds to start contributing big plays, as the Steelers have to decide whether to pick up his fifth-year option after this season. In the meantime, Edmunds is earning $1,452,526 in salary this year (according to, while counting $2,917,579 against the team’s 2020 cap. In 2021 he is scheduled to earn $1,938,789 in salary and count $3,403,842 against the cap.

You can watch Tomlin’s press conference in its entirety below:

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