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Often a problem, Steelers excited about upcoming trip to Seattle

The Steelers' locker room was a lively place Monday following the bye weekend. Here are some of the stories:

PITTSBURGH -- If you're going to the game in Seattle on Sunday, look for the statue of Keith Butler.

Arthur Moats will be.

Butler, the defensive coordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers, returns to his old stomping grounds, where he played linebacker from 1978-87 and still ranks second on the Seahawks' all-time tackles list with 813.

Does he ever brag to his players about those good ol' days?

"Oh, no question," said Moats, a Steelers outside linebacker. "He always talks about how he had this many picks and he was a tackling machine. He always talks about tackling Marcus Allen. We always say, 'Aw, he ran you over.' But he says 'You can find the clip.' So one day I'm going to find this clip of him getting run over and put it on social media."

Butler brags so much about his days as a Seahawk, Moats said, that he's expecting to see a statue of his coach somewhere around CenturyLink Field.

"The way he tells me, it goes 12th Man and then there's Keith Butler. Twelfth Man statue over, here and Keith Butler statue over on the East End. Yeah, that's what they say."

The Steelers have played seven times in Seattle and won only once, in 1983, a game in which Butler made seven tackles.

"That's why they have the statue," Moats said with a laugh.

Moats turned serious when asked if he believes the Steelers can win for a second time in Seattle.

"No question. We believe it," he said. "Outside of the New England game, I haven't seen a team I truly felt was better than us, that I truly felt beat us. I feel like every other team we lost to was because of something we did, self-inflicted wounds. When we played New England that opening game, they exposed our lack of communication and overall readiness before the snaps. But outside of them, I haven't seen a team that was really better than us.
"I'm extremely confident. Our team is extremely confident. We're excited about it."


Coming off the bye, Ramon Foster was asked to reflect on what he's learned most about his team through the first 10 weeks of the season. He said it's the Steelers' resiliency through injuries that has impressed him most. Foster said the guys are brainwashed by Mike Tomlin's Next-Man-Up mantra.

"It's really like that," Foster said. "People give Coach flack about being a players' coach. He's like that uncle who raised you that you don't want to let down. That's how you look at him. Yeah, he's fun to be around, and he'll show you a good time. But if you let him down, he comes down with the hammer. That's Al (Villanueva) going in, that's Cody (Wallace) going in, that's DeAngelo (Williams), just all across the board. Guys have paid (for) their contracts in a major way this year."

Foster, in fact, was a Next-Man-Up when he replaced an injured Chris Kemoeatu for four games late in the 2009 season. Foster started 11 games the following season, including the Super Bowl.

"It was just a mentality," he said. "When guys come in it's 'Hey, this is what we play. This is what's expected.' Guys have followed suit. We don't have any opposing guys who want to be on their own agenda. Guys have come in and been team players and gotten the job done."


The 2006 Minnesota Vikings were a 6-10 team, but an eighth-ranked defense helped Tomlin secure the head-coaching job in Pittsburgh the following season. The offensive coordinator on that team was Darrell Bevell, who's been the OC at Seattle since 2011.

"He's a fundamentalist," said Tomlin. "He's a core-football believer. He's not going to beat himself. They're going to take care of the football. He's going to allow Russell (Wilson) to be Russell. I think he's very comfortable when he's got a quarterback with a unique skill set the way that he has to allow him to be himself.
"Of course," Tomlin added, "he had a great rapport and relationship with Brett Favre and the things they were able to do together up there. I think that this is a continuation of that type of latitude, to allow this guy to create with a special skill set."

Bevell's unit was 26th in points scored in 2006, his first year on the job. But the talent moved from Brad Johnson (QB)-Chester Taylor (RB)-Travis Taylor (WR) to Favre (QB)-Adrian Peterson (RB)-Sidney Rice (WR) by 2009 and the Vikings finishede second in points scored.
Under Bevell, the Seahawks have led the league in rushing the last two seasons. Without an injured Marshawn Lynch last week, rookie Thomas Rawls stepped in and rushed for 209 yards on 30 carries against the San Francisco 49ers.
Rawls is a 5-10, 217-pounder out of Central Michigan by way of Michigan.

"He's like a mini-Beast Mode," said Steelers linebacker Sean Spence. "Yeah. He runs hard. He breaks a lot of tackles, finishes runs. He's going to be a great challenge for us this week."


Jimmy Graham, the 6-7, 260-pound tight end who was traded to the Seahawks before the season, is averaging 4.4 catches, 53 yards and 0.2 touchdowns per game after averaging 5.6-70-0.73 per game the previous four seasons in New Orleans.

What's happened?

"Different offense, different quarterback, different system," Spence said. "When he was in New Orleans, it was more of a pass-first team. Seattle is a run-first team."

Of course, Spence remembers Graham well before his evolution into one of the game's most dangerous tight ends. In Graham's only year on the University of Miami football team, he caught 17 passes for 213 yards and 5 touchdowns in 13 games.

"I didn't think he'd be this good," Spence said. "Being that he only had one year in football, my sophomore year, you saw the potential but I didn't know he'd be this big, scoring as many touchdowns as he has and being the dominant force that he's become."

Graham spent four years on the Miami basketball team and averaged only 4.2 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. He made the decision to try football in his final season of athletic eligibility.

"I've heard the stories about Antonio Gates and other guys who played basketball, but that was my first time I actually saw a basketball guy really play football," Spence said. "What he is now, he was nothing like that at Miami. He's evolved so much."

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