When the Steelers host the Tennessee Titans at Heinz Field on Thursday Night Football, there will be a lot of familiar faces on the opposing sideline.
Starting with Titans Coach Mike Mularkey, who played tight end for the Steelers (1989-91), was the tight ends coach (1996-2000) and offensive coordinator (2001-2003), there are a total of seven members of the Titans’ coaching staff with Steelers’ connections.
Including in that group is assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, who spent 16 seasons with the Steelers, 14 of them as the defensive coordinator.
“My time with the Steelers, what the organization did for my life, I had so many good things happen for me there. I’ll always be grateful to Pittsburgh and the Rooney family,” said LeBeau. “But we’re in Nashville now.
“But Pittsburgh people, they were wonderful to me. They were absolutely wonderful to me.”
Yes, they are in Nashville now, so when they talk about the Steelers as they do below, they are talking about their upcoming opponent and not their former team.
What the Titans said:
Mularkey on the Steelers’ weapons:
“A lot of explosive players offensively – leading rusher (Le’Veon Bell), leading pass receiver (Antonio Brown). The quarterback (Ben Roethlisberger) is playing very good. It’s a physical offensive line. We know the defense pretty well, and they’re No. 2 in the NFL right now. Their pass defense is their rush – you have to block these guys. They have a complicated scheme like we do. We have our hands full.’’
LeBeau on Ben Roethlisberger:
“I have a lot of respect for him. We went up against each other in practice every day. So I have a lot of respect for him.”
Mularkey on what makes Pittsburgh a tough place to play:
“I think they take a lot of pride in that place, defending their home, just like we are. That's what our intent is - make it very hard when you come in here to play. The crowd is well into it, especially for a night game, they're there all day getting ready for it, if you know what I mean. It's a fun environment. They play well at home.”
Mularkey on Antonio Brown’s consistency:
“You just get the ball in his hands. Todd (Haley) does a good job of getting the ball in his hands. He is so much of a threat. They do a good job of scheming it to do that. It’s just his ability with the ball in his hands. It doesn’t have to be made up in the air. It can be quick throws and the explosive plays.”
Mularkey on Coty Sensabaugh:
“I thought he was a good corner, played well for us. I know Coty, know him well. He is a good person. He was good for our team on and off the field, just the way he was in the community, for our team, how he represented it, the charitable things he did.”
Mularkey on if he is surprised the Steelers haven’t score more points and if he fears they might break out soon:
“I hope they go crazy next week. I really do. They are explosive players. Very similar to us. They are scoring points to win games. As long as you are winning.”