View Full Version : Keith Butler & Kevin Colbert Talk About Steelers Linebackers

Hawaii 5-0
06-07-2012, 10:54 PM
Keith Butler & Kevin Colbert Both Talked About Linebackers On Thursday

Thursday, June 7th, 2012 by Dave Bryan

The Pittsburgh Steelers wrapped up their final OTA practice of the 2012 off-season at Heinz Field and afterwards linebackers coach Keith Butler addressed the media to talk about his group.

Butler was first asked about how Jason Worilds is doing, being as he has sat out all three OTA sessions thus far. "He's healing," said Butler. "He had surgery on his wrist, the same thing that I had when I played, except back then they fused mine. They're not fusing his. His going to have full range of mobility hopefully when it's done. So it's just taking some time to heal. We want to be sure about it so when we get into training camp he's ready to go."

Butler was then asked if indeed Worilds would be ready by training camp. "We're hoping," so said Butler. "Who knows? Wrist can be anything, so we'll see, we'll see."

Butler was asked about the injury specifically. "It is what they call a scapholunate diastasis to be exact," said Butler. He further explained the injury, "What it is, your wrist has got several bones in it and a ligament tore between those two bones, the scapho and the lunate, in the wrist. And when that happens, they've got to reconstruct the ligament, and it takes time to heal to get the full range of motion."

When asked when Worilds suffered the injury, Butler said, "He did it in the season, and you can play with it in the season. It's not a very painful injury, but it's a nuisance type injury that you've got to live with for the rest of the year and try to get it taken care of in the off-season, and that's what he's done."

Butler was next asked about James Harrison missing time during the OTA sessions. "Well, he'll be here next week along with LaMarr (Woodley)," said Butler. "Everybody will be here. James had a little fluid on his knee. We're not winning the World Championship right now, we're going to win it when we go to training camp. We want him there for training camp, to get ready for training camp and we want him there when we play on Sundays."

The questioning then turned to the young linebaxckers that were impressing so far and Butler singled out Adrian Robinson and Brandon Hicks, but cautioned that a lot of players look good in shorts. When asked about third round draft pick Sean Spence specifically, Butler said, "He's coming along well. Very sharp young man and is picking up our system as well as anybody has at this point."

Butler was asked if Spence would be a special teams player only this year or if he would get a chance to play some as a rookie. "He's shown me some things that he can pick up mentally," said Butler. "I wouldn't say he's not going to play. The fact of the matter is, since I've been here we've never had a rookie play or start for us as a rookie. Not Lawrence Timmons, not LaMarr Woodley, not anybody. So we'll see with him. He might not start, but he's probably going to get some playing time, like Lawrence did and like LaMarr did. They got some playing time as rookies, but they weren't starters."

Butler was asked next about Chris Carter, the Steelers fifth round draft pick from last year, who is finally getting his first taste of off-season work because of the lockout last year. "He's coming along very well, coming along very well," said Butler. "I wish we would have had the same off-season we had with Jason Worilds last year. Jason Worilds really improved during the season last year, because that's the only time he got reps. At least this year, with Chris being in his second year, this is a vital time in my mind for these young guys, because they have somewhat of an idea what's going on now and we get a better evaluation."

Butler wasn't the only member of the organization talking about linebackers on Thursday, as General Manager Kevin Colbert also talked about the position during his interview with Pat Kirwan and Tim Ryan on the Movin The Chains radio show, which can be heard on SiriusXM Radio.

Colbert was asked about the selection of Spence and how he didn't seem to be a fit for the Steelers system. "Sean kind of went through a transformation with the new staff at Miami. His first three years they were mostly run and avoid and use your speed. The last year they tried to be more of a take-on kind of approach for the linebackers and Sean did pretty good at that, " explained Colbert. "I mean he's not the biggest guy, but he's got a nice power base to him. He's got a big lower body. So you can always add upper body strength, and it's not like he's deficient in those areas either. Its just a matter of learning the technique and learning when to take-on and learning when to avoid. He's extremely extinctive and very athletic, so we think that he can play the MACK backer, our weak inside backer. If he had to play BUCK, and take on people play-in and play-out, he'd probably have some trouble. He's really actually a little heavier than Larry Foote was when we took Larry in 2002, and Larry developed into a 10-year NFL linebacker. So we think Sean can do the same types of things, because he's certainly smart enough to learn any linebacker spot or any defense. I think he's got a chance.

Colbert was asked if down the road he thought that Timmons might slide and take over the BUCK position. "I think it gives us those options, yes," said Colbert. "Right now Larry Foote will man that spot and Lawrence will be inside, at the weak inside linebacker and they'll work together. You know Sean has a long way to go before he's ready for primetime, but in the meantime, at least we'll have some options as we progress."

That question was followed up by one asking if both Foote and Stevenson Sylvester will compete for the starting BUCK spot this year. "Yeah, we have Larry and we have Stevenson Sylvester, who had a good rookie year, especially on special teams," said Colbert. Last year he had a little bit of a knee problem that nagged him and held him back for the season. They'll come in and they'll compete for that spot. Of course Larry is a veteran, and he will be ahead of him right now, but Sly will definitely give him some competition, because like I said, the rookie year we were kind of excited in him, but last year he had a couple of setbacks."


El-Gonzo Jackson
06-08-2012, 09:30 AM
good article, thanks for posting.

Its kind of explains the confusion of selecting Spence I had. I thought he would be a bit small to play the Buck LB and Butler confirms that he might struggle there. So if he really shows promise, he may get a chance to compete for a starting job in 2013 at the Mack LB spot.

I'm intrigued to see what strides Chris Carter makes this year. I think he has an incredibly quick first step, but didnt seem that strong against the run. Maybe the offseason gave him a chance to hit the weights and understand that better.

06-08-2012, 05:38 PM
Butler: Replacing Farrior isn't easy
June 8, 2012 12:13 am

By Dan Gigler / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

At a brief media session yesterday after the final organized team activity of 2012, Steelers linebackers coach Keith Butler seemed to talk as much about players who didn't participate as the ones who did.

That stands to reason. With James Farrior gone, James Harrison a scratch for the OTAs, LaMarr Woodley not practicing and Jason Worilds recuperating from wrist surgery, a lot of veteran talent was missing.

But Butler seemed pleased with what he has seen thus far in some junior members of the linebacker corps, with one caveat: "Here's the deal -- they all look good in shorts. Its almost like a beauty contest. But, when the hittin' starts, we'll find out about 'em."

He has found out, however, that third-round pick Sean Spence -- who made an eye-catching interception in drills yesterday -- is a quick study and likely will see game action this season.

"He's coming along well. A very sharp young man. He's picking up our system as good as anybody has at this point," Butler said.

"He's showed me some things ... I wouldn't say he's not going to play. The fact of the matter is, since I've been here, we've never had a rookie start for us -- not Lawrence Timmons, not LaMarr Woodley, not anybody. So we'll see with him. He may not start, but he's probably going to get some playing time."

Butler also singled out second-year man Chris Carter as well as undrafted free agents Adrian Robinson and Brandon Hicks for their good showing in OTAs, but he was most effusive in his praise for the departed James Farrior and said replacing him will be a challenge.

"I won't ever feel good about not having James Farrior. A guy with that leadership type of quality, and knowing the defense the way he knows it, it was easy for him to set the defense. Stuff that comes up -- and it always does -- on the field that you haven't covered as a coach, he can take care of."

Butler added that the experience of 11-year veteran Larry Foote will get them through.

"[Foote] knows what's going to come out of my mouth before I say it ... I think Larry's going to try to fill that void for us in terms of getting the defense set and running the defense. [But] the leadership quality that Potsie brought, I don't know if we can replace that."

Nonetheless, Butler is optimistic: "I hope we'll be as good a defense as we were last year. I do feel good about that."

Harrison has not participated in these OTAs, but Butler said he will join the team next week for minicamp, as will Woodley, who missed practice Thursday.

Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said that Harrison's recovery from back surgery last year "got better and better as the year went on. He told me earlier in coaching sessions, it's the best he's felt for three years, which was good news."

Butler said that Worilds had surgery to repair a torn ligament in his wrist that he injured last season, but expects to be ready for training camp next month.

"He's going to have full range of mobility, hopefully, when its done. It's just taking some time to heal. We want to be sure about it so when we get to training camp he's ready to go," said Butler.

The absence of Harrison, Woodley and Worilds from the OTAs has not bothered LeBeau.

"The plus of that is some of these younger guys are getting awful lot of snaps," LeBeau said. "I think they'll all be up and ready to go in training camp."

Butler had a chance to leave in the offseason to become the defensive coordinator in Indianapolis, but opted to stay and work under LeBeau. "I love Dick LeBeau. I've learned a tremendous amount from him and I've got too much respect for him to be a guy that tries to push him out the door."

First Published June 8, 2012 12:00 am

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/sports/steelers/butler-replacing-farrior-isnt-easy-639474/#ixzz1xFCPDZXo

Hawaii 5-0
06-08-2012, 11:43 PM
Keith Butler has some nice things to say about a few of the young LBers like Sean Spence and UDFA Adrian Robinson from Temple:


06-08-2012, 11:46 PM
Yeah, that was a great video. I really enjoy listening to the defensive position coaches when they speak, albeit rarely. Mitchell, Butler, and Lake all really know their stuff. I can't wait to see how Sean Spence can be used on defense this season.

Hawaii 5-0
06-11-2012, 02:43 PM
Will Adrian Robinson Push Chris Carter For A Roster Spot?

Monday, June 11th, 2012 by Dave Bryan

Cracking the Pittsburgh Steelers 53 man roster out of training camp as an undrafted linebacker this year seems to be a very daunting task, as there just doesn't seem to be a spot for one to do so. When you look at the locks on the roster, you definitely see why. Baring injury, James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley, Lawrence Timmons, Larry Foote, Jason Worilds, Stevenson Sylvester and rookie Sean Spence all will be on the 53 man roster and you have to think that Chris Carter, the fifth round pick from last year, also has an inside track on a roster spot as well.

Over the last three seasons the Steelers have kept, 8, 9 and 8 linebackers on the roster respectively entering the first week of the regular season, so you can see how big of an uphill battle the young linebackers face. Keep in mind that the Steelers will likely need to carry 5 safeties of the 53 man roster for week 1, as opposed to the normal 4, as Ryan Clark is surely to miss the opening game in Denver because of his sickle cell trait. In addition, 3 nose tackles on the 53 man roster is also a possibility depending on if Casey Hampton starts the season on the PUP list or not.

Despite the insurmountable odds, there have been two young undrafted linebackers that seem to have caught the eye of linebackers coach Keith Butler during the OTA sessions that wrapped up last week. Those two players are Adrian Robinson out of Temple and Brandon Hicks out of Florida. "I think I've got a good group this year," said Butler on Thursday. "Probably a little more impressive than normal with the guys we got." Butler continued, "The kid from Temple, Adrian Robinson, has been doing a good job. The kid from Florida has been doing a good job. We've got some players."

Although Butler noted that both Robinson and Hicks have impressed thus far, he also cautioned that the big test will come when they put the pads on. "Here's the deal. They all look good in shorts," said Butler. "It's almost like a beauty contest, but when the hitting starts, we'll find out about them when it starts."

Robinson, who went undrafted this year, is likely the one of the two with the best shot of grabbing a roster spot, as he plays outside and could push Carter in training camp. Robinson was a defensive end at Temple, and the transition to standing up in the Steelers 3-4 system, is always a tough adjustment for the tweener types, especially being as reps will be scarce for him. For Robinson to make the 53 man roster, he will have to out perform Carter on special teams for starters and show that he has more long-term upside than Carter as an outside linebacker. Butler did note that Carter is coming along well on Thursday, so the Fresno State product will likely be tough to upset.

Hicks played both inside and outside while at Florida and went undrafted in 2011. He spent training camp last year with the Buffalo Bills, but did not stick. He figures to be getting his reps inside with the Steelers and seems to be the much longer shot of the two when you look at that players ahead of him on the depth chart, which includes Spence, who really has flashed thus far according to the reports. Although the praise from Butler is nice, a practice squad spot seems to be the best Hicks can hope for at this point.

The Steelers begin their mandatory mini-camp this week, and while it is great for young players to get mention from their position coach in June, they still have a long road ahead of them. That being said, Robinson could be a player to watch for when the Steelers get things started in Latrobe. Carter certainly has the inside track, at what figures to the 8th and final linebacker spot, but I would in no way consider him a lock right now. If Robinson makes the transition from shorts to pads well, he might at worst be looking at a spot on the Steelers practice squad.

http://network.yardbarker.com/nfl/article_external/will_adrian_robinson_push_chris_carter_for_a_roste r_spot/10986893