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Steelers

Steelers add Karl Dunbar as defensive line coach, retain John Mitchell

Joe Rutter
| Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018, 12:48 p.m.
Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan talks with defensive line coach Karl Dunbar on the sideline in the first half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Monday, Nov. 23, 2015, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan talks with defensive line coach Karl Dunbar on the sideline in the first half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Monday, Nov. 23, 2015, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
This is a 2015 photo of Karl Dunbar of the Buffalo Bills NFL football team. This image reflects the Buffalo Bills active roster as of Monday, June 15, 2015 when this image was taken. (AP Photo)
This is a 2015 photo of Karl Dunbar of the Buffalo Bills NFL football team. This image reflects the Buffalo Bills active roster as of Monday, June 15, 2015 when this image was taken. (AP Photo)

Karl Dunbar is returning to the place where his professional football career started.

Dunbar was hired by the Steelers on Thursday as defensive line coach. He replaces long-time Steelers assistant John Mitchell, who will remain on the staff as assistant head coach.

Dunbar, 50, was an eighth-round draft pick of the Steelers in 1990. He spent the past two years coaching the Alabama defensive line.

Mitchell, 66, just finished his 24th season as Steelers defensive line coach, making him the longest-tenured member of the Steelers coaching staff. He has been the team's assistant head coach since 2007.

Under Mitchell's direction, defensive end Cam Heyward recorded a career-high 12 sacks in 2017, the second most by a Steelers defensive lineman since the stat became official in 1982.

In his new role, according to a Steelers press release, Mitchell will “oversee staff development, work with current and former players in career development and assist coach Mike Tomlin in community-related events.”

Although Dunbar never played a regular-season game for the Steelers, he spent time in the NFL with the Arizona Cardinals and New Orleans Saints and has spent most of his coaching career in the pros. Dunbar has coached for the Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings, New York Jets and Buffalo Bills.

When Dunbar was in college at LSU, Mitchell was on the Tigers defensive staff. He and Tomlin were on the Vikings staff in 2006, the year before Tomlin was hired as head coach of the Steelers.

“Having the relationship with Mike and some of the coaches on the staff (helps),” Dunbar told the team's website. “Knowing Coach Mitchell, who was a coach at LSU when I played. A lot of things he did, I do. I will lean on him to help me get to know the guys in the defensive line room and hopefully make it a great transition.”

Team president Art Rooney II said Wednesday the Steelers were in the process of finalizing Tomlin's coaching staff. Three members of the 2017 staff have left the organization: offensive coordinator Todd Haley (contract not renewed), wide receivers coach Richard Mann (retired) and defensive backs coach Carnell Lake (resigned).

Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jrutter@tribweb.com or via Twitter @tribjoerutter.

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