Each week Steelers' defensive coordinator Keith Butler, offensive coordinator Todd Haley and special teams coordinator Danny Smith share their insight in exclusive interviews with Bob Labriola and Missi Matthews that can be heard on SNR every Thursday beginning at 12 noon.
This version of Coordinators' Corner will give you a sneak peak of what to expect each week, but this just touches the surface. Read what they have to say, but take my advice, click here every Thursday at 12 noon for the full interviews or check back here later in the day for the archived versions. It will be worth your time.
Strong group:** The Steelers will be without outside linebacker Bud Dupree on Monday night in Washington, who was placed on IR, but defensive coordinator Keith Butler likes what he has in the group of linebackers and feels good about what they will bring to the defense this year. He is especially looking forward to what Ryan Shazier is going to bring.
"I am confident this is going to be a good year for Jarvis," said Butler. "It needs to be a good year for him. It's his contract year. He's got pressure on him to try to do well. We think highly of him obviously because we drafted him in the first round. We think he's capable of being a good football player if he can stay healthy. The problem with Jarvis is his whole career, up until now, is he has had little nicks and bumps that have kept him from playing. We're excited about him playing and doing a good job."
Double threat:** Newly acquired cornerback Justin Gilbert has the coordinators talking, with the combination of what he can potentially bring to the defense as well as the return game. The Steelers took a good look at Gilbert when he was eligible for the 2014 NFL Draft, and that was part of the attraction when they traded for him.
"I know he was highly thought of in our draft room," said Butler. "We had him rated fairly high. We felt like if he dropped to where we were, we would have a chance to get him and we were hoping to get him. He went in the eighth pick and we couldn't get up that high to get him."
Special teams coordinator Danny Smith likes what Gilbert can bring to the return game, but he just wants to see it in action. **
He was excellent coming out of college," said Smith. "He hasn't been as productive as he hopes to be or we hope for him to be at this level just yet. I like him. He and I have some things brewing, some things working. I need to see him in action. The two things I remember about him most is he has excellent speed and he is fearless."
Should AB return punts: And speaking of returners, fans are always concerned about Antonio Brown returning punts and the potential for injury that exists if he does. So what does Smith think? Well, let him tell you as only he can. And honestly, you have to listen to it to really appreciate it. * "*
I am going to give you a (smart aleck) answer," said Smith. "And that answer is I think we ought to take him out on offense on every running play. He might get hurt. I think we should take him out every run then we could help him and protect him there as well."
Front of the line: The offensive line got a shot in the arm with the return of center Maurkice Pouncey, and offensive coordinator Todd Haley is feeling good about the line in general, rating it tops in his time with the Steelers.* *
"The best one and deepest," said Haley. "That is a group you are talking about that has been together for a significant amount of time. I am really excited to see them work together and what they are capable of."
Stepping up: Haley also weighed in on wide receiver Sammie Coates and whether or not the second-year player is ready for what is going to be asked of him this year.
"I think we will see," said Haley. "I can't predict that. I know he did a lot of really good things, especially through training camp. He had a couple of hiccups in a couple of games, but he bounced back nicely. He is another we stressed we need you. It's an important position that the third, fourth receiver step up."