Still learning, fair catch, 'absolutely not'

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.


Learning from mistakes:** Rookie Sean Davis was called for a facemask penalty in the final drive against the Dallas Cowboys, a penalty that helped set up a touchdown. But that one play didn't diminish the rest of Davis' play on Sunday, or the progress defensive coordinator Keith Butler sees him making.

"He has been playing good for us," said Butler. "He is getting better and better. He is still learning. He's still a young guy as well as Artie (Burns). We have two young guys back there in the secondary that are still learning. We feel like they are going to be good players for us. Unfortunately we don't have the time to wait on them to become good. They have to become good right now. They are still learning. As a player you get better when you learn from your mistakes and don't repeat them. I think those guys are trying to do that."

All's fair: Special teams coordinator Danny Smith set the stage for what the basic rules are for Steelers' punt returners and when they should signal for a fair catch vs. returning a punt.

"Number one it's a situational thing," said Smith. "What are you doing up front? Are you doubling the gunners outside? The guys that can come down the field first. We start the week by giving them a drive chart. I have charted every punt the opponent has punted. Say for example there are 15 to our right, 10 in the middle of the field and three left. Obviously we are leaning middle to right in our preparation for that. It differs each week. Some people do a good job of charting that and spray the ball around and you have to defend the field. That is the first thing.

"The second thing is a basic rule of thumb. We teach our punt returners if they get their chin up in the air that's a pretty good hang time punt. You are making quick decisions, you can't have your eye on the coverage and the ball. If you have your chin in the air, that is a pretty good hang time punt. If your chin is in the air and you are running toward the coverage that generally is a fair catch situation. If your chin is in the air and we set you at a good distance, we should have an opportunity if we are doing our job up front to get you started. If we are retreating on that kick, that is a returnable ball. Those we get returns on. There are a lot of factors in there that get mixed in."

Forget the clock: The Steelers scored a go-ahead touchdown on Sunday against the Cowboys with just 42 seconds on the clock. But those 42 seconds were enough time for the Cowboys to come right back and score. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley said in a situation where you need a touchdown, you can't pay attention to how much time is left in the game.

"Absolutely not," said Haley. "Touchdowns are not guaranteed. Maybe needing a field goal situation you would try to use as much clock as you got as close as you possibly could. When you need a touchdown, as hard as touchdowns are to come by, you need to take them when you get them."

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