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Steelers DC Keith Butler on the wisdom of Chuck Knox and the challenge Saquon Barkley presents Monday

PennLive.com logo PennLive.com 9/13/2020 By Bob Flounders, pennlive.com

Pittsburgh’s long offseason is almost over. The majority of the NFL teams are in action Sunday but Mike Tomlin’s Steelers have an extra day to prepare — and wait — before squaring off with the New York Giants Monday night in East Rutherford, N.J.

Even with Ben Roethlisberger back under center, the strength of Pittsburgh heading into 2020 is the defense. The Steelers are led by outside linebackers T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree, inside linebacker Devin Bush, down lineman Cam Heyward and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. But really, there is talent everywhere on a unit that accumulated 54 sacks and allowed an average of just 18.9 points per game.

And the big challenge for the Steelers, let’s face it, is finding a way to slow down New York feature back Saquon Barkley as a runner and a receiver. The matchup between Barkley, a Penn State grad, and Bush, a Michigan man, looms large. It’s also worth nothing the two are almost identical in size (both are listed at 5-11, and Bush is one pound heavier at 234).

Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler, who played linebacker in the NFL for 10 seasons (1987-87) with the Seattle Seahawks, knows what’s coming Monday night.

"If I’m them, I’m using (Barkley) to try to control the game and run the football,'' Butler said, referring to Barkley as a “premier back”.

“They should be able to do that because they are a good football team, but it is a great challenge for us in trying to stop him.”

Butler also said Barkley is the type of player that will make New York’s offensive line much better, especially on running plays.

"I think I would like to be an offensive lineman on that team with that running back behind me,'' Butler said.

“That guy doesn’t need a big hole. He can get through some very slim holes, so it will be a challenge for us to try to stop him with their offensive line.”

Barkley, though, doesn’t see many defenses like Pittsburgh’s in a typical season. He definitely doesn’t see one in the NFC East. The Steelers will be coming at Barkley and second-year quarterback Daniel Jones from many different directions. And Butler said his defenders' play this year, not their reputations, will determine how good the 2020 defense is.

"I played for a guy named Chuck Knox (in Seattle), and Chuck would always say this,'' said Butler, who was an All-American at Memphis before the Seahawks chose him in the second round.

"And this is the best wording I’ve seen, and it is simply this: ‘What you do speaks so well, nobody can hear what you say.’

“Our guys, they are going to dad-gum want to play and they want to prove themselves. For me to sit here and say they are going to be outstanding at this or outstanding at that, we will see when we play because those guys on the other side are good players, too.”

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©2020 The Patriot-News (Harrisburg, Pa.)

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