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Steelers

Steelers will practice tackling in training camp, Keith Butler says

Joe Rutter
| Wednesday, June 13, 2018, 1:39 p.m.
Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler watches during minicamp June 12, 2018 at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler watches during minicamp June 12, 2018 at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.

Five months later, Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler still is haunted by the 45-42 playoff loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

“You remember that crap like it was yesterday,” Butler said Wednesday. “It bothers me. I know it bothers our players. We didn't stop the run, and we let them score too much.”

Most disturbing to Butler is the way the Jaguars ran through the Steelers defense without much opposition. The Jaguars had 164 yards rushing, including 109 by rookie Leonard Fournette, who scored three times.

Three rushing touchdowns -– two by Fournette, one by T.J. Yeldon –- helped the Jaguars build a 21-0 lead in the second quarter that the Steelers couldn't overcome.

Stopping the run has consumed Butler during the offseason.

“It's as simple as you can get,” Butler said before the Steelers' second minicamp practice. “Look at the whole last year and we missed a ton of tackles.”

The real corrections, though, won't come until next month when the Steelers report to training camp in Latrobe. All offseason workouts until then are non-contact without pads.

“We'll work on tackling and try to improve it as much as we can,” Butler said. “If we are able to tackle better, all that stuff is going to be cut down.”

The relaxed offseason workout rules, implemented in the 2011 collective bargaining agreement, make it more difficult for teams to practice tackling. Even in training camp, players aren't permitted to wear pads until the third workout and only one padded practice is permitted daily.

Butler said poor tackling is an epidemic across the NFL.

“Nobody (practices it),” he said. “Nobody does it in college. Look at college, they've got 20 hours (of regulated time with players). Two hours go to strength work and three hours go to the game, so that's 15 hours a week to practice. What do you think they are practicing? They aren't practicing fundamentals. They are practicing schemes.

“When we get them, we can't think they know the fundamentals of playing football, we have to teach them the fundamentals of playing football, and it's our job to do that.”

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

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