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Steelers notebook: Defense can’t focus all its energy on Gronkowski |

Steelers notebook: Defense can’t focus all its energy on Gronkowski

Joe Rutter
| Saturday, October 22, 2016 4:57 p.m
Getty Images
The Patriots' Rob Gronkowski spikes the ball after scoring a touchdown against the Bengals on Oct. 16, 2016, in Foxboro, Mass.

Defensive coordinator Keith Butler said the Steelers won’t assign only one player to cover Patriots All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski.

Gronkowski is averaging 21.7 yards per catch on 13 receptions, the second-best average in the NFL behind the Steelers’ Sammie Coates (22.2). Gronkowski was bothered by a hamstring injury early in the season and has done much of his damage the past two weeks.

“He’s not the only guy they’ve got,” Butler said. “You try to take away the guy that they got, then they got (Julian Edelman). They’ve got the other tight end (Martellus Bennett), who is pretty good, too. And (Tom) Brady does a good job of spreading the ball around when people try to take away Gronk.”

Bennett, who spent the past three seasons with the Chicago Bears, and Gronkowski are 6-foot-6 targets for Brady.

“That’s something that is rare even in the NFL is to see guys of that size and speed and the way they move and shift their weight,” Steelers cornerback Ross Cockrell said.

Missing Cam

With defensive lineman Cam Heyward out of the lineup, the Dolphins rushed for 222 yards, including 204 by Jay Ajayi.

Butler said the Dolphins took advantage of Heyward’s absence. Neither Ricardo Mathews nor L.T. Walton made the stat sheet against the Dolphins.

“I think they wanted to run the ball. If I was playing us and I was doing a game plan for us, like I said last week, I would run the ball,” Butler said. “I mean, I would try to run the ball and keep the ball away from our offense if I was trying to game plan against us. And that’s exactly what they did.”

Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at or via Twitter @tribjoerutter.

Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review steelers reporter. You can contact Joe via Twitter .

Categories: Steelers
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