We’ve heard a lot from Keith Butler and Todd Haley but like special teams in general, Danny Smith has mostly been forgotten about. But Steelers.com’s Missi Matthews sat down for an exclusive interview with Smith, including getting his thoughts on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ punt return situation.
If you’ve been following the site, you know it’s been a hot button issue from myself and others on here. Smith offered a simple mindset in determining who will fill that role.
“We’re going to put the best people out there. We really are. The ones that give us the best chance to win. And if that’s Antonio Brown, and he gives us the best chance to win, then that’s what we’re going to go with.”
That’s a very political answer from Smith, not that I disagree with the assessment, but we’re not learning much from this. If that is truly the standard, it would be hard to see Antonio Brown usurped by Demarcus Ayers or Eli Rogers. But Smith also noted we’ll have to wait until game action in the preseason to make an accurate assessment.
“Until a guy gets hit in a game situation…that’ll be more of a determining factor than people touching you off, tagging you off, not putting you on the ground.”
Smith did praise Brown’s skillset, a deft returner who has housed a punt in four of the last five seasons.
“AB is off the chart. He isn’t even on the box,” Smith told Matthews, referring to his return outline he referenced in his post-draft press conference. He checks all those boxes. The guy is fearless. The guy has a great skillset, obviously. And he’s a great competitor.”
That’s a trait Smith has referenced before and one that shouldn’t be overlooked. Toughness and fearlessness are critical, after all, you’re running into the teeth of a group of 11 sprinting at full speed. Observe that in Ayers and Rogers just as much as their ability to make people miss.