The Steelers close out the regular season on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field, a team that comes into the game with a 0-15 record, but is looking for an upset.
The Browns know they have a challenge in front of them, playing against a team that beat them in Week 1 of the season, 21-18, and has improved since then.
“Schematically they change things up each week, which keeps you on your toes,” said DeShone Kizer. You have to make sure you make your proper adjustments in game. They were a very good defense in week one and they are going to be a very good defense on Sunday.”
Kizer and his teammates weighed in on other topics as well, including the team being without Ryan Shazier and Antonio Brown.
Kizer on if the Steelers’ defense is different without Ryan Shazier:
“Schematically they are the same. Shazier is a heck of a player. His ability to rally to tackles, be around the football all of the time, that makes him a special player. That is why he has the respect around the league he has. To see what he is going through right now is sad. But that defense has been able to step up since then, be able to replace him and they have done a great job with it.”
Duke Johnson on showing support for Shazier:
“The last two-three games I wore the eye black with his name and number on it. I do it for him and his family.”
Christian Kirksey on Joe Haden getting to play in the postseason:
“When I have ex-teammates go to other teams I am always excited for them, for their success.”
Kizer on if he thinks Haden will shadow Josh Gordon:
“They are in a position where they have a lot of talent on that defense. Whether it be Joe following him around, or spinning him off, it will be up to me when Josh has the opportunity, I put the ball in his hands.”
Johnson on going against the Steelers defense:
“They are a zone scheme team. Depending on the day, you find the right hole in the defense, you will get pretty good yardage. Shazier not being there affects a lot. He is a big time run stopper and he is their emotional leader, outside of Mike Mitchell. He is a great football player.” Kirksey on if he expects to see the starters play for the Steelers:
“They are still trying to get home field, so I am expecting to see their big guys come out.”
Kirksey on not having Antonio Brown on the field:
“He is their playmaker, but they have other players who step up. JuJu (Smith-Schuster) is playing at a high level as a rookie. Le’Veon (Bell) is going to be Le’Veon. He will do what he does. They are missing their leader and their piece, but they have other pieces that can be a spark to the game. AB is not playing so we are shifting our focus to making sure we stop Le’Veon, JuJu and make it hard for Big Ben (Roethlisberger).”