Each week Steelers' defensive coordinator Keith Butler, offensive coordinator Todd Haley and special teams coordinator Danny Smith share their insight in exclusive interviews 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, listen every Thursday at 12 noon for the full interviews or check back there later in the day for the archived versions. It will be worth your time.
Rock solid:** Special teams coordinator Danny Smith has seen his share of the New York Giants throughout his coaching career, having been on the staff of both the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles, both NFC East foes of the Giants, prior to the Steelers. Smith knows the history of the Giants, as well as how good the present team is.
"They are excellent. They are solid as a rock," said Smith. "They are on a six-game winning streak. They are a well-coached team, a physical football team, a hard working team. They come to play football. It's going to be a 60-minute game. They play very hard. They are having success. We are facing a pretty darn good football team but we need to win it worse than them and I am expecting us to do well."
One challenge Smith will have is defending Odell Beckham Jr., who returned punts last week against the Browns.
"He can do anything," said Smith. "He is excellent. This guy is special. We're going to have to punt the ball well and go cover. They have three quality returners. It will be quite a challenge and they are really good at it." The hot hand: Earlier this week Coach Mike Tomlin referred to William Gay as having the 'hot hand' at outside linebacker, as the veteran leads the team in sacks with four. Defensive coordinator Keith Butler sees the same thing from Harrison, which is why he and Bud Dupree are the key components at outside linebacker.
"He has been more consistent putting pressure on the quarterback," said Butler of Harrison. "He has done a good job of doing that so we are going to keep letting him do it. He helps us in that regard. He has to keep helping us in that regard. Hopefully he will be a pain in somebody's butt while they are trying to block. We will see what happens."
Getting more reps: Injuries at receiver to Darrius Heyward-Bey, Markus Wheaton, and even Sammie Coates, although he is still playing through them, have created an opening opposite Antonio Brown. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley had liked the job some of the young guys are doing, as well as tight end Ladarius Green, who is starting to get more involved in the passing game.
"I think Cobi (Hamilton) has done a very job," said Haley. "Eli has done a very good job. You have seen Eli get more and more reps, Cobi getting more and more reps. Ladarius making plays in the Indianapolis game was big for us. It was only two catches, but it was field flipping types of plays, which is what we are looking for. Anytime anybody besides Antonio Brown makes those, it's good for us and it's good for Antonio."
It's been tougher for Coates to make the plays as he is playing with two broken fingers on his left hand, but Haley said it's not impossible.
"I think you can," said Haley. "You have to do whatever you have to do to catch it. Not letting it get into your head is important. There have been those conversations with Sammie. When he is truly mentally tough he will find ways to make plays regardless of circumstances. Obviously it's an issue. I am not trying to downplay that at all. Just looking for him to get over that hurdle quickly because we need him down the stretch."