Vontaze, improved play & blocked kicks

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.


Before the whistle:** The Steelers-Bengals rivalry has heated up somewhat in part to the play of Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who had issues in the past with personal foul penalties and was suspended earlier this year as a result of repeated violations of the player safety rule. Burfict hasn't had many issues this year, and is a player offensive coordinator Todd Haley knows is someone they are going to have to contend with this week.

"He is a great player," said Haley. "Really a great player. Big, fast, strong, instinctual. Finds his way to the football a lot. As far as the other stuff, it's up to us. Whoever is called upon each play to block him, they have to make sure they finish to the whistle and not allow any of that after the whistle stuff to happen." 

Bengals rematch:The Steelers and Bengals will meet for the second time this season on Sunday, with the Bengals trying to avenge a 24-16 Steelers win at Heinz Field in Week 2. In that game Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton threw for 366 yards and a touchdown, but their running game was stymied. Defensive coordinator Keith Butler has seen improvement in all aspects of the Bengals offense since Week 2, and knows Sunday will be a challenge at Paul Brown Stadium.

"I think Dalton is playing better," said Butler. "I think he has improved his play. If you look at the games we have scouted he has played well in all of those games. He didn't make a lot of mistakes. They are doing a good job of running the ball. They are doing a good job of maintaining without A.J. Green. (Tyler) Eifert is playing well for them. They're running backs are playing well for them. It's going to be a tough game. It's going to be a harder opponent than our last opponent. It's good for us we are playing better teams each and every week. If we can improve it will prepare us for what we need to do."

Within the rules: Last week the Patriots blocked a field goal attempt by Ravens' kicker Justin Tucker when Shea McClellin leaped over the line and blocked it. It was a play that had some wondering if a flag should have been thrown, but special teams coordinator Danny Smith explained how it plays out in a legal fashion, and said adjusting your timing is a way to help prevent it.

"There are a couple of things involved there," said Smith. "You get a tip and it's all about timing. Troy Polamalu invented that before it was cool. Now people are taking off with it. You are not allowed in the framework of the center's body at the snap of the ball. That's an illegal formation and a five yard penalty. It can be a first down in a situation on a field goal. You are not allowed in the framework of the snapper at the snap of the ball, which is shoulder pad to shoulder pad. Distance, the determining thing is a healthy two yards. They say not within the feet of the down defensive linemen, so if he is in a four-point stance you are not allowed inside his feet. The timing of that is crucial.

"You aren't allowed to touch a guy. Now it's simply a touch. If he raises up and touches you, it's a foul on the defender." 

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