Injured Bengals TE Tyler Eifert still a concern for Steelers' D?

Jeremy FowlerESPN Staff Writer3 Minute Read

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PITTSBURGH -- Injured Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert had fun with a Steelers coach discussing his impact on Sunday's game despite being on injured reserve since October.

"Hey I am ahead of schedule! Glad the @steelers are still thinking about me tho," tweeted Eifert, who was sent to IR on Oct. 5 with an ankle injury.

In a weekly interview with Steelers.com previewing the upcoming opponent, Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler was asked where he thinks Eifert ranks in terms of the game's best tight ends. The Steelers host the Bengals in Sunday's season finale needing a win and help to reach the playoffs.

"I think he's very good," Butler said. "I think he's up there. He can get deep on you. He does a good job of catching the ball, all that stuff. He's going to be a problem for us to cover."

At one point earlier in the interview, Butler was asked which players will fill the void left by injured receiver A.J. Green, "besides Tyler Eifert, the tight end." Butler said Eifert is doing a good job and referenced John Ross and Alex Erickson as impact players.

On Saturday, the interviewer took to Twitter and accepted "full responsibility" for Butler's mixup.

Butler also discussed quarterback Jeff Driskel's mobility on designed runs, the difficulty of tackling running back Joe Mixon, the speed of Ross and whether Tyler Boyd will be on the field for the Bengals on Sunday. Butler pointed out he typically references players by numbers instead of names, since that's how he sees them on game film.

Eifert has been a fixture for the Bengals offense since entering the league in 2013 but will have missed both Steelers matchups this season. The Steelers and Bengals last played Oct. 14, with Pittsburgh winning 28-21 to extend its winning streak over the AFC North rival to seven games.

During his weekly session with reporters Thursday, Butler discussed the state of his defense, which ranks ninth in total defense, first in sacks and 15th in scoring defense. The Steelers are 8-6-1 and need the Cleveland Browns to defeat the Baltimore Ravens to loosen up Baltimore's half-game divisional lead.

"There are some guys that weren't here with us last year that are getting better, but again we aren't good enough," Butler said. "We are what we are. I don't know how many games we won by three or lost by three or whatever. Those games we won last year and ended up 13-3. You lose those games, like we did this year, then we're where we are."

Butler has been with the Steelers since 2003, serving as a linebackers coach for 12 years before coach Mike Tomlin promoted him to a coordinator role in 2015.

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