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Filling the void

It'll be "next men up" more than "next man up" without inside linebacker Devin Bush on Sunday in Nashville, but the Steelers still intend to remain in character.

Head coach Mike Tomlin said this week he doubted second-year pro Robert Spillane would play all the defensive snaps against the Titans. But the initial options beyond Spillane don't include altering Terrell Edmunds' role as the strong safety to help fill Bush's position.

"Right now we have who we want in there and we feel pretty good about what we have in here," defensive coordinator Keith Butler said following practice today. "We don't want to make a bunch of changes unless we have to. We want the guys to play the position they normally play.

"And (Edmunds) has done a good job playing the safety position so there's nothing that we want to do to move him."

Spillane replaced Bush late in the second quarter last Sunday against the Browns.

That included Spillane wearing the green dot on his helmet as the defensive signal-caller.

When he's not in the game that's a role that will also have to be shared.

But even when Spillane is playing communication on defense will be somewhat of a group effort.

"(Free safety) Minkah (Fitzpatrick) has done a good job of it, has done a good job during training camp, or what little training camp we had," Butler said. "He knows the defense well, so I don't think we'll have a problem in terms of getting everybody set to the right direction."

Inside linebacker Vince Williams, likewise, will remain one of the Steelers' critical communication links on defense.

"Vince has always helped whoever was out there making the calls," Butler said. "Devin was making the calls, we wanted him to make the calls because he was never coming off the field at the time. So he made all the calls for us, although Vince helped him and made sure that we got in the right defenses and the calls were right and all that stuff.

The Steelers prepare for the Week 7 matchup against the Tennessee Titans

"He'll continue to do that with whoever's in there, whoever he's playing with, when he's in there."

Tomlin has mentioned second-year inside linebacker Ulysees Gilbert and second-year pro Marcus Allen, who began a conversion from safety to linebacker in training camp, as "among" those who would be "called to step up."

Spillane will be the "primary man" replacing Bush, Tomlin has said.

"I think our guys are ready to do this," Butler said. "We wouldn't ask them to do it if we didn't think they were ready to do it, so I'm pretty sure we'll be OK.

"They might try to do some things to soak us up a little bit but that's part of football, you gotta be able to adjust."

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