Steelers hire special teams coordinator

January 31, 2013
New Steelers special teams coach Danny Smith, shown here at the Redskins’ training camp in 2011, brings 18 years of NFL experience to the job. - Associated Press

When Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin had to hire a special teams coordinator before the 2009 season, he attempted to talk to Washington Redskins coach Danny Smith. But the Redskins would not allow the interview, and Tomlin hired Al Everest instead.

This time, Tomlin got his man.

Tomlin hired Smith, a Pittsburgh native, as the Steelers’ new special teams coordinator Thursday, filling the final open spot on his coaching staff.

Earlier this week, Tomlin hired Tom Bicknell Jr., as the new offensive line coach.

Tomlin viewed the special teams hire as an extremely important one.

“It’s one of the few positions within a staff, other than the head coach, where a guy has the potential to address the larger group on a regularly scheduled basis,” Tomlin told “So you’re looking for somebody who is a great communicator, not only in terms of small groups but also in extremely large groups. He has to be a guy who sees the game from a 22-man perspective.”

In Smith, Tomlin feels he found someone who can handle that job.

Smith, who has 18 years of NFL experience, had been with Washington since 2004. Prior to that, he coached tight ends in Detroit and defensive backs and special teams in Philadelphia.

The Pittsburgh Central Catholic graduate also was coach at his alma mater in 1977-78, where he coached future NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino.

Smith is Tomlin’s fourth special teams coordinator and third in the past year.

Everest, who replaced Bob Ligashesky in 2009, was fired in August just prior to the start of the regular season. His replacement, former assistant special teams coach Amos Jones, left last week to assume the same duties with the Arizona Cardinals.

Tomlin hopes Smith’s experience will help a unit that suffered from too many penalties and other miscues in 2012.

“We had too many positive plays negated due to penalties,” Tomlin said. “That’s an easy discovery and acknowledgement. For me, moving forward, it’s how to minimize it, how to play better technically, how to put guys in better position to win blocks or defeat blocks if we’re in coverage. Those are the things that need to be discussed as we move forward.”

In other news, Steelers backup quarterback Charlie Batch was named the winner of the NFL’s Byron “Whizzer” White Award, which is given by the NFLPA to a player for his work within the community.

Batch runs the Best of Batch Foundation, a charity he started 12 years ago when his younger sister was shot and killed when caught in the crossfire between rival gangs in the Homestead area where he grew up.

“It’s truly an honor to win this,” said Batch. “For me to see the past winner’s names attached – first off, it’s named after Byron ‘Whizzer’ White, who played for the Steelers, and three former Steelers won it, including Andy Russell, Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier. It’s great to be a part of.”

Dale Lolley has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1993 after previously working at WJAC-TV and the Tribune-Democrat in Johnstown, and The Derrick in Oil City. A native of Fryburg, Pa., he is a graduate of North Clarion High School and the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, where he earned a degree in journalism. He has covered the Pittsburgh Steelers since joining the Observer-Reporter in 1993, and also serves as the outdoors editor. He also is a radio host for Pittsburgh’s ESPN 970-AM, and serves as administrative adviser for the Red & Black, Washington & Jefferson College’s student newspaper.

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