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Shazier: 'We know the sky is the limit'

Posted Oct 23, 2017

With all of the playmakers on the unit, the defense still can get better.

Playmakers everywhere: There was a time when you could predict who would make a big play for the Steelers, who would come up with one that could completely change the flow of the game.

Now, you can’t, and that’s a good thing. Because it means that every player on defense has the ability to come up big.

Against the Bengals Joe Haden and William Gay both had interceptions, while T.J. Watt, Cameron Heyward, Tyson Alualu and Bud Dupree all had sacks. And that is just a small snapshot of how the plays have come from all over the place on defense this season.

“I think the coaches did a great job of finding guys that love the game of football and were playmakers at their schools or wherever they were,” said Ryan Shazier, who led the defense with eight tackles. “The teams that they played on before, they have to be ‘the’ playmaker. We have a playmaker at every position and we are all learning that I don’t have to make that play because he is going to make that play. That helps us out. We are trusting each other.

“It is coming together more and more every week. We still have some young guys, I am still a young guy. I think we are still learning what we can do and are trusting each other. The more we trust each other and understand what we can do, it will continue to take us further.”

Heyward added that it’s the approach the players are taking, not being concerned with who is making the play, but rather that a play is being made, is what is leading to their success.

“We are just selfless in the way we do things,” said Heyward. “We understand that if we just do our jobs it’s going to put somebody in an advantage. Whether it’s the defensive line taking on a block to get the insides one-on-one with a back because we feel like that is a win. Or just keying on one guy. Everyone winning their one-on-one matchups.”

And what is scary is to a man, everyone on the defense has said they aren’t playing their best yet. That they can do more, and plan on showing that as the season continues to play out.

“We know the sky is the limit,” said Shazier. “We know we can be the best and be a dominant defense. If we keep working, we are going to go as far as our work takes us. It doesn’t scare me at all. It might scare everybody else. I can’t wait to see our finished product.”

Still talking: A week after the talk in the locker room was all about Martavis Bryant asking for a trade, the conversation was again centered on the receiver.

On Sunday night Bryant replied to a comment someone tagged him on in an Instagram post, commenting on teammate JuJu Smith-Schuster. Bryant wrote: “Juju is no where near better than me fool all they need to do is give me what I want and y’all can have JuJu and who ever else.”

Bryant later deleted the reply, and on a separate comment said that Smith-Schuster is ‘the future’ and is going to be ‘one of the best to play the game.’   

Smith-Schuster was asked about the comments, and said he understood where Bryant was coming from as both of them just want to make catches to help the team win.

“I know where Martavis is coming from. I know where he stands,” said Smith-Schuster on Monday in the locker room. “A situation like that, you only have one ball and you have all of these good athletes on the field that you have to share it, it’s tough. Just moving forward I just want to help this team win and get number seven.

“I think the team understands it. It’s just so hard. There is one ball on the field and it’s hard to spread it around. What he said, I don’t take it personally. I want the best for him.”