Steelers lose DBs coach to Arizona
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The loss of secondary coach Ray Horton to the Arizona Cardinals might be the only change to the Steelers coaching staff for 2011.
Coach Mike Tomlin wants to retain both coordinators who are in the final year of their contracts -- Dick LeBeau on defense and Bruce Arians on offense -- and does not plan changes at any other coaching positions.
Horton, a secondary coach with the Steelers since 2004, was hired as the Cardinals defensive coordinator Wednesday after interviewing in Tempe, Ariz., with Cardinals coach and former Steelers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt.
Horton became the leading candidate when the Steelers prevented linebackers coach Keith Butler from interviewing for that position. Whisenhunt was looking for someone who had worked with LeBeau to run Arizona's 3-4 defense, which ranked 29th in the National Football League in 2010.
Horton has worked with LeBeau for 12 seasons, including five with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Whisenhunt wanted to hire Butler as his defensive coordinator after the 2008 season, but Butler declined the opportunity because he was having hip-replacement surgery and could not devote the necessary time installing the defense with the Cardinals. Instead, Whisenhunt hired Billy Davis, a former Steelers assistant who had worked under Dom Capers, to be defensive coordinator.
Davis was fired last month after the Cardinals finished 5-9 and allowed 434 points, third most in the league. They also had the worst rushing defense in the NFC, allowing an average of 145.2 yards per game -- nearly 83 yards more than the Steelers' league-leading average (62.8).
Horton becomes the fifth former Steelers assistant to join Whisenhunt's staff since he became head coach in 2007.
"We're going to be an aggressive, disciplined, downhill, attacking defense," Horton said at an introductory news conference. "We're going to get after the quarterback. I'm here to say right now, the first call is going to be a blitz, no question about it."
While players such as Hines Ward (knee, thumb) and Emmanuel Sanders (foot) need surgery to repair injuries, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said his injured right foot does not need surgery "as of now." Doctors have told him they will let his foot heal without surgery.
Roethlisberger has a fracture in his right foot that was originally detected by the Steelers in the 2007 season -- an injury that occurred years earlier during his childhood. But the fracture healed on its own when protective fibers formed around the bone, creating what is known as "fibrous union." Those fibers were sprained when Roethlisberger injured his foot against the New England Patriots, and, again, against Buffalo.
First Published February 10, 2011 12:00 am