The Steelers will take on the Tennessee Titans this week, a game that had to be rescheduled from Week 4 until Week 7 after multiple members of the Titans organization, including players, tested positive for COVID-19.
It will be a matchup of two 5-0 teams and will pit the Steelers No. 1 ranked run defense in the AFC against the Titans No. 1 run game in the AFC.
Coach Mike Vrabel, who began his NFL playing career with the Steelers as a third round pick in 1997, knows it will be a tough matchup and it starts up front with the defense.
"Talented players, well-coached, physical," said Vrabel. "Certainly, a challenge. They're playing with a lot of confidence. They've got size where you need size. They have speed and athleticism and length where you need length.
"Well coached. Really good personnel. They have a good scheme, are well coached and have really good players."
Vrabel and the Titans also weighed in on the receivers, Ben Roethlisberger and more this week, as well as a few weeks ago when the game was originally scheduled to be played.
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Coach Mike Vrabel on linebacker Robert Spillane, who was with the Titans previously:
"He has athleticism, he can run, he came in and did a fantastic job at the tryout. We were able to offer him a spot on the team that Sunday. I remember him being excited to be able to tell his mother on Mother's Day. We worked with him. He was very productive. We just weren't able to keep him, but happy to see him move on and continue to develop as a player. He looks like an impactful special teams player and the opportunity he has playing defense has done very well there. He was always a very active and productive player."
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill on the Steelers defense:
"It's a stout defense. No doubt about it. Strong all the way around. The front is really good. Big, physical, veteran guys up front that really set the tone. Their backers are solid, they play fast, they play aggressive, they have great edge rushers with (T.J.) Watt and (Bud) Dupree coming around the outside. (Stephon) Tuitt and (Cameron) Heyward in the middle. The secondary, (Minkah) Fitzpatrick, Joe Haden, they have guys everywhere. I have a lot of respect for this defense. Big challenge on our hands."
Vrabel on what stands out to him about the Steelers receivers:
"They all are really good route runners. They are very well coached. When you have the ability to go get the football, they are all locked in and dialed in because Ben distributes the ball to the guy who is open. That keeps everyone alive and focused so they can produce. Just when you may forget they have a guy, and James Washington shows up huge last week. Then it's (Chase) Claypool. You have to be prepared for everybody they have out there. They all have 24, 25, 26 targets."
Safety Kevin Byard on the challenge Ben Roethlisberger presents:
"He is a veteran quarterback, a Super Bowl winning quarterback, somebody that has done it for a long time at a high level. He is somebody, especially being back there at safety, that the play is never dead. He has a really good pump fake. He has some real weapons out there. They are going to run the RPO game. He can really shred a defense apart. He is a great quarterback. I always enjoy playing against Ben Roethlisberger. One of my favorite quarterbacks growing up, honestly, I grew up a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. To have my third opportunity to play against him is pretty awesome."
Vrabel on the challenge Eric Ebron presents:
"A good player. He looks to be comfortable in this system. They're using him from the line of scrimmage. They're splitting him out a little bit. Ben looks at him as a receiver on third down, and he likes that matchup. He can run. He does have a very good catch radius. I think Ben's already developed a relationship with him as somebody he's confident in and he trusts."
Center Ben Jones on the defense:
"They are a great defense. They are physical. They get after it. we know what we are getting into this week. They are a physical defense. They played a lot of years together. They are a veteran bunch. They are powerful big guys."
Vrabel on Claypool:
"He is a player we evaluated coming out. He is a smart football player. They do a lot with him for being a rookie. He plays in the kicking game. He is a good player there. He is a gunner for them. He plays all over the place on kickoff. He's got really good size, speed. Doesn't seem like the game is too fast, too big. They have thrown shots at him. He is a big play threat."
Tannehill on the Steelers overall:
"I have a ton of respect for Pittsburgh. It's a complete team, offense, defense and special teams. They're solid all the way around. Defensively what I am looking at they are pretty special. They have an incredible front, do a great job of moving up front, getting penetration, being disruptive in the run and pass game. They pair that with a secondary that can play well."
Vrabel on the lesson that sticks out to him about his time in Pittsburgh:
"Even in life, I remember there was a sign or a quote from Mr. Rooney that said, 'If you have to tell somebody about it, it's not charity.' I always took great pride in that as I got older to understand that, to really appreciate that to be able to do things for other people and not always have to tell people about it.
"It kind of starts there, kind of starts at the top with the leadership. They just bring a certain toughness to the game. They do things very consistently over the course of their history. That's something to be commended."
Tannehill on Roethlisberger coming back from his injury:
"Ben has had a great career. He has won big games, Super Bowls. He has played at a high level for what, 16 years. I have so much respect for a guy who plays at such a high level on a year to year basis. He's won a lot of different ways."
Linebacker Rashaan Evans on playing against Roethlisberger:
"Big Ben, who has played a long time. I remember playing with him on Madden. Having that opportunity is something you look forward to. These are the type of games you look forward to."
Vrabel on his time with the Steelers:
"I know that I was fortunate to be drafted by that organization, the Rooney family, Bill Cowher. My first NFL coach was John Mitchell, and I'm lucky to have been coached by him and those other coaches. Jim Haslett was on that staff, and he's currently on our staff as well now. To have veteran players, I'll never forget this—these are the type of players I want to try to put on our teams—the Dermontti Dawsons, the Will Wolfords, Jerry Olsavsky, Greg Lloyd, Levon Kirkland, Carnell Lake, Mark Bruener, all those greats, Tom Myslinksi, just veteran players that took in the rookies and showed them how to be a pro, showed them how to develop in this league and what it required to be in this league. That's what I was fortunate about.
"The first guy that came up to me, Dermontti Dawson asked me if I golfed. I said, 'Yeah.' He invited me to his country club. The only country club that I had been to was the one that I caddied at in Akron. Those are the types of guys I was fortunate to be around and learn from. I lived in Mark Bruener's basement every spring. I'd drive over from Columbus and watch the girls basically be born and raised. I know Mark is still associated with the Steelers.
"The Rooney family, (the Steelers) is a great organization and have been since they founded the team. It was an honor to play there for four years."