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Ready to coach their own at the Pro Bowl

Posted Jan 23, 2018

The Steelers' coaching staff will be in charge of an AFC squad loaded with Steelers' players.

There is no doubt the Steelers coaching staff would trade everything Orlando, Florida has to offer this time of year to be in a much colder atmosphere in Pittsburgh, still preparing to play.

That isn’t the case though, and they are making the most of it.

The team’s coaching staff is coaching the AFC squad for the 2018 Pro Bowl, a result of losing in the AFC Divisional Round.

“It’s an honor and privilege in this league to coach a Pro Bowl,” said special teams coordinator Danny Smith. “I have never done it. You want to still be preparing to play, but to be able to be around the players and coach them, it’s something I look forward to.”

Practice kicks off on Wednesday morning, and the AFC and NFC squads will hold three practices this week, and then a walk-thru on Saturday, before Sunday’s game at Camping World Stadium.

“It’s good from two standpoints,” said assistant head coach/defensive line coach John Mitchell. “Players get the recognition they deserve, they get to meet players from other teams that they don’t always get a chance to meet. And for the coaches it gives us the chance to see the players we don’t get to see. You don’t want to be there, that isn’t your goal. But you make the best of the situation.”

One thing that is making it easier for the coaches is having 10 Steelers players selected to the Pro Bowl this year, with the majority of them taking part in the game. Eight players were voted to the Pro Bowl, including Le’Veon Bell, Chris Boswell, Antonio Brown, David DeCastro, Maurkice Pouncey, Ben Roethlisberger, Ryan Shazier and Alejandro Villanueva, and Cameron Heyward and Roosevelt Nix were later named to the game.

“You look at Cam and the way he has worked, positioned himself, and the type of man he is. I am really happy for him,” said Mitchell. “When you do a good job, you want people to recognize you. Cam did it the old-fashioned way, by hard work. He wasn’t a front runner. He came in here and played behind two good players when he started, took the horse by the reins, and did the things he should do to be a good football player. I am tickled to death he has the chance to play in the Pro Bowl at this stage in his career.”

Having three offensive linemen make the Pro Bowl is unusual for any team, but the Steelers line is a special group and it comes as no surprise they were recognized. 

“They worked hard together and have grown as a group,” said offensive line coach Mike Munchak. “It will be fun for us in an atmosphere that is more laid back. We are usually in an atmosphere that is very intense and serious. Plus, you get to meet other players around the league you played against, and it’s a great atmosphere for them to exchange ideas, techniques and have a good time.” 

For Smith, having Boswell as his kicker doesn’t just make it more enjoyable for him, it makes him happy to see him get his due recognition.

“It’s special to have your guys with you,” said Smith. “They did a great job. You know them. I will get to know the other guys, those are relationships that are good to build, but to have your own guys is the best.

“For Chris, it’s special. It’s not too big for that guy. He is fun to be around, he is a competitor. He hit some field goals at the end of games to get us where we got. That is his job. You prepare for those times, and those moments. He was well prepared and went out and performed. He executed like he was supposed to and deserves everything he gets. I love the guy. He is a clutch guy. I would want him in any situation. I am proud of him. I am happy for him.”

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