PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – Steelers assistant head coach and defensive line coach John Mitchell joined “The Fan Morning Show” on Wednesday to talk about the growth of his unit and the changes that the Steelers’ defense has undergone over the past 12 months.
Mitchell highlighted two of the emerging leaders for the Steelers’ defense, one on the field and one off the field.
The former is defensive end Cam Heyward, who Mitchell says has learned what it takes to lead from the Steelers’ greats that came before him.
“He sat behind Brett Keisel and Aaron Smith and he saw two guys – how they came to work, how they prepared, how they went on the practice field, how seriously they took their job,” Mitchell said. “He saw them day in and day out, and these were special players. And when you have players behind guys like those, who are the ultimate pro-type players that you like to coach, any player should get better. And I can’t say enough good things about Cam Heyward. He works real hard. The game is important to him. He wants to get better game in and game out.”
As for the leader off the field, that would be Defensive Coordinator Keith Butler, who has had large shoes to fill following the departure of Dick LeBeau.
Mitchell said Butler has done a fantastic job of taking what LeBeau had in place and putting his own stamp on it.
“Keith is a very intelligent young man, very smart,” Mitchell said. “And he was smart enough not to scrap everything that Dick [LeBeau] did. And we’re doing some new things, his ideas, and the players really like it. Keith has a great rapport with the players. He’s a fun guy to be with, and I enjoy working with him. I’ve been with him now going on 13 years. He’s a great guy, and that’s what you need. He knows football well, but he makes it fun for the players the same as Dick LeBeau did.”
The full interview can be heard here: