Dick LeBeau returning with Titans to coach against Steelers
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Dick LeBeau is more than happy to talk about the challenge of defending Ben Roethlisberger and the highpowered Steelers.
The 80-year-old coaching legend will even joke about never having been to the visitors’ locker room at Heinz Field before.
The emotions of returning to Pittsburgh to coach against the Steelers (7-2) where he spent 16 seasons over two stints? Nope. “I’m trying not to think at all about anything except the Titans (6-3) getting ready to play a big football game,” LeBeau said Tuesday.
“It’s going to really be a great challenge for us, and we’re looking forward to it.”
Not for the Tennessee defensive coordinator who’s returning to Pittsburgh for the first time since he resigned as Steelers defensive coordinator in January 2015. That was after his second stop from 2004 to 2014 where the Steelers won two Super Bowls with LeBeau as coordinator.
Titans linebacker Brian Orakpo said he’s pretty sure this return trip will be emotional for LeBeau.
“He won’t tell us that, and he won’t tell you guys that,” Orakpo said. “I’m pretty sure this one means a lot to him . ... We want this one for him.”
Many of the Steelers are looking forward to seeing LeBeau again — personally.
Kevin Butler replaced LeBeau as coordinator and remains good friends with LeBeau. Seeing LeBeau on the opposite sideline will be awkward in a relationship so competitive Butler says he makes LeBeau putt out when they play golf together.
And yes, the Steelers still use some of what LeBeau installed as coordinator. How much? Butler isn’t saying.
“We’re top five in the league in defense for a long time when he was a coordinator, so it would be foolish for us not to use some of the same stuff he used,” Butler said. “Sometimes people catch up with it so you kind of have to tweak it here and there.”
Roethlisberger is expecting LeBeau to throw everything at him, along with something the Steelers quarterback doesn’t know. Roethlisberger called LeBeau probably one of the best defensive coordinators and even better people he’s ever met.
“It was so much fun to be on his team and watch what he did to other quarterbacks,” Roethlisberger said. “I don’t think it’s going to be as much fun going against him.”
LeBeau isn’t buying into Roethlisberger’s flattery.
“To show him something he’s never seen before, I think that’s an impossibility,” LeBeau said. “But we’ll try to disguise and try to make him read us after the snap. He’s a great diagnostician. He really can take a look at you and find out where you’re going.”
The NFL-leading Eagles have signed former New York Giants offensive lineman Will Beatty to provide more depth.
Beatty started 58 games for the Giants at left tackle from 2009-2014. He replaces Taylor Hart, who was released Tuesday.
The Eagles lost nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters earlier in the season. Halapoulivaati Vaitai has started in his place.
Beatty played six games in 2016 after missing the 2015 season with a torn pectoral muscle. He’s the second veteran player with a Super Bowl ring to join Philadelphia in two days.
The Eagles (8-1) signed linebacker Dannell Ellerbe on Monday. Ellerbe played for the Dolphins and Saints and was part of the Ravens’ championship team in 2012.
The Seattle Seahawks have signed veteran cornerback Byron Maxwell to help make up for the loss of Richard Sherman to a season-ending Achilles tendon injury.
Maxwell knows Seattle’s system after starting his career with the Seahawks and becoming a starter during the 2013 season.
Maxwell signed with Philadelphia in free agency after the 2014 season but lasted just one year with the Eagles and was traded to Miami before the 2015 season. Maxwell lost his starting job in Miami to rookie Cordrea Tankersley early this season and had been inactive the past four weeks prior to his release.
Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is heading back to Pittsburgh for the first time since he left the Steelers in 2015.