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Something Changed to Give Steelers Confidence in Ahkello Witherspoon

Ahkello Witherspoon has been ready to play but the Pittsburgh Steelers needed to see something first.

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler knew Ahkello Witherspoon was ready to play but wasn't sure his mindset was before Week 13 against the Baltimore Ravens. 

What switched? Butler said Witherspoon finally found the sense of urgency that he needed to compete as the Steelers cornerback.

"This kid is a big, tall, lanky kid that is a corner," Butler said. "Anybody who has got that height who can play corner in this league is always a good advantage. 

"Why do people overlook him? He probably hadn't been urgent enough as he should. He's starting to get that now. You got to be able to play with that sense of urgency when you're playing corner in this league because guys can run by you. The good thing about trying to run by a big, tall kid is he's long and it's hard to throw over." 

Witherspoon stepped up in his first start with the Steelers, recording five tackles and a pass break up in the team's win. His impact made noise, and he's been a hot topic since. Not just because of his Week 13 play, but that he was inactive for all but four games this season. 

"He's a smart guy. It didn't take him long to learn the defense," Butler said. "But playing with a sense of urgency does matter. We put him out there and he played well."

With Joe Haden unlikely to play against the Minnesota Vikings, the Steelers are hoping Witherspoon keeps that sense of urgency. 

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