The fourth and final preseason game was very important for two teams in the AFC North on Thursday night.
"It felt good to get my first game under my belt," Burns said, via the Post-Gazette. "There's much improvement to be made. It definitely felt good. I had my first game in almost a year. I wanted to show everyone what I could do. It felt real good to be out there again."
Per the paper, Burns swatted away a pair of passes. It was a mixed bag performance against Carolina's backups, but probably not enough to vault the top prospect into the starting lineup. The cornerback-starved Steelers will still roll with William Gay and Ross Cockrell, with Burns likely making more of a contribution around the mid-season point, unless Sean Davis struggles mightily at the Nickel.
"I go against our (starters), the great receivers that we have," Burns said. "I'll get good reps against them and get back up to speed."
Over in New Orleans, the vibe was a little different. The Ravens finally arrived at Breshad Perriman's NFL debut and first NFL catch. Unlike Burns, he cannot and probably won't sit to start the season. The team has sustained blow after blow to Joe Flacco's arsenal of weapons, which is why it was encouraging to see Perriman get his hands on a ball.
"It just felt like a sigh of relief," Perriman said, via the team's official website. "I know it was the ultimate blessing. ... For me to get that first catch, to be out there with my teammates, it was great."
It's hard to remember a fourth preseason game that offered so much hope -- or maybe a realization of how far Pittsburgh's defense and Baltimore's offense need to come, respectively -- in one division in recent memory. Both of these teams should be pushing for a division title this year, but both need these young players to elevate above their ages.