- Rookie recap: Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler was one happy man on NFL Draft day, with five of the team’s seven draft picks being defensive players. He is getting a look at them during OTAs, and is anxious to see more.
“We want to see them practice,” said Butler. “We want to see them play in the NFL. See how they compete. See how they adapt. How do they play mentally? Those things are going to be important as we go to training camp, through OTAs.”
Like everyone else, Butler is excited about what No. 1 pick Artie Burns can bring to the defense as well.
“Artie has what we call good length,” said Butler. “Not that he is 6-4, but he is 6-0 tall. He has the wing span of a guy who is 6-3, 6-4. He has long arms and he can intercept the ball. He anticipates the ball well. He does a great job of bump and run. He can play off a little bit. He needs to work on that a little bit.
“Often time colleges don’t have the time to spend working on technique you are going to need to play football in the National Football League. Those things we are going to have to work on with him.”
- Better, wiser: It’s not just the rookies Butler is excited be working with. It’s the veterans who are the backbone of the defense, in particular linebacker William Gay who is back at 38-years old.
“I am glad he is back,” said Butler. “I thought he would come back. He sees the potential of this team just like we do. He probably looked at it from a different point of view than he did before. The older he’s gotten, and I wouldn’t tell him this, the wiser he’s gotten. I think he wants to come back and get one more shot at winning a Super Bowl. I sure want him to be a part of it because he has done a lot for this franchise.”
- Building confidence: OTAs are in full swing for the Steelers, and for the coaches it’s an opportunity to get their first look at the players after a long offseason. For the players, especially younger ones, it’s a chance for them to get comfortable with the defense and build confidence.
“I want them to be confident in what we are doing and how we are trying to do it,” said Butler. “In terms of what we are doing defensively, the defenses we are running, and why we are running them and get an idea of what they can do better, how they can improve. They all want to be good and that is a good thing. They want to be a good defense. They want to be tops in the league in defense. They want to be Super Bowl champions. Wanting to do it and doing it are two different things, but I think they are buying into it a little more than they have.”