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Hearing from Lake, Mitchell, Butler

Posted May 21, 2014

During the weekend of the draft, some Steelers assistants addressed a variety of issues

Draft weekend chatter from the defensive staff:

DEFENSIVE BACKS COACH CARNELL LAKE on defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau’s contention that the Steelers have “great players in the building already; they just haven’t had the chance to show us that they’re great,”  as it related to the cornerback position:

“The one or two corners that we picked up last year and this year; (one) would be Antwon Blake, from Jacksonville. I had him graded fairly high going into last year’s draft. Blake is very fast. He didn’t get invited to the Combine; some clocks had him sub-4.3 (in the 40-yard dash). He’s very strong on top of that, he’s quick.

“He was so tough the Jaguars tried to use him at safety even though he’s under 6-foot (5-9, 198). He turned out to be a really good special teams player for us. I’m thinking he could turn out to be a really good corner for us.

“We also picked up Brice McCain in the offseason (UFA, Houston). I’ve been working with the guys on the field the last couple of weeks and I’m very surprised by how well he moves. Not only is he quick but he has some speed, and that’s what I’m looking for to improve our room. We’ve got to get faster and we’ve got to get quicker and I’m always looking for tough guys. If you can tackle and you can cover, there’s a place for you not just in the NFL but especially here.”

ASSISTANT HEAD COACH JOHN MITCHELL on the 2013 defense:

“I tell them that of every five plays (opposing offenses) run, two of them are going to be a mistake. If we take care of our responsibilities, we’ll be OK. You look back at our season last year, up front I tell my three guys ‘you’ve got to eat up five guys.’ If we don’t do that the linebackers aren’t going to be able to make plays. We’ve had great linebackers here because the front has kept them free.

“If they double-team the nose tackle in our scheme, now they’re playing with nine and we’re playing with 10. What we have to do up front is make that ball go to the unblocked guy in our scheme. We didn’t do a very good job of that last year because the ball went north and south. We have to make the ball go east-west because we have the speed to run that ball down when it goes east and west.

“When you let that ball go north and south on you, you’re not a very good front. We have to be a lot better up front.”

JOHN MITCHELL on Cam Thomas (UFA, San Diego): “A lot of times I go into a game with five defensive linemen active, so I have to have two with the flexibility to play nose and end. Cam Thomas gives us that. Steve McClendon gives us that. Chris Hoke, when he was here, gave us that. Stephon Tuitt, who has played inside some, he played pretty well inside; we have a lot of flexibility with this draft choice.”

LINEBACKERS COACH KEITH BUTLER on the impact defensive assistant Joey Porter will potentially have on linebacker Jarvis Jones:

“I think Joey will help him immensely because he and Jarvis Jones are probably the same guy, their style of play. Jarvis is a little bit different than Joey but not much. Joey’s always had that kind of ‘barn boss’ attitude when he’s played, and we need some of that. I’ve already told them all the story about him going out to the bus and trying to pull Ray (Lewis) off the bus. I want somebody like that. I want that type of attitude in that room and he brings it.

“Joey, that’s the way he played. A lot of people say Joey was a loudmouth and all that stuff, and maybe he was, but he backed that mess up. I think he has a passion for coaching, he loves to be on the field working with those guys, and he has a real good knowledge base to do it.

“Jarvis, he’s putting in a lot of work. He’s trying to get stronger. If you watched his progression from the early part of the 2013 season to the latter part of the season he improved quite a bit. I’m sure he’s always pointing out film of me coming off the sideline hollering at him on the field, but I think he’ll be a lot better.

“He pretty much didn’t know where to line up last year. He had trouble with that. And then trying to catch up with what we were trying to do, and if somebody wasn’t there to help him, tell him what he was doing he was just about a half-second slow. In the second year everything slows down, and if it slows down mentally then it’ll be a lot easier for him.”

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