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Steelers were denied permission to interview special teams coach Danny Smith in 2010

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Before Amos Jones was hired as the Steelers' special teams coach, Mike Tomlin sought permission from the Redskins to interview Danny Smith. He was denied.

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Post-Gazette reporter Ray Fittipaldo has an eye-opening look at Steelers special teams coach Danny Smith in Friday's edition, including a bit about how head coach Mike Tomlin requested permission to speak to Smith when he was with the Redskins in 2010, but was denied.

A lot changes in three years, especially the fate of the former Central Catholic coach.

Fittipaldo points out Smith coached at Central Catholic when Dan Marino was there, one of the many highlights of a career spent in coaching. Smith, 60, is helping at the Steelers' youth camp at West Allegheny High School.

What will have to change is the Steelers' special teams unit. Blessed with a career year from kicker Shaun Suisham, punt and kick coverage was an issue all year. Baltimore's only touchdown came on a 63-yard punt return in the Ravens' 13-10 win over the Steelers in Pittsburgh.

Who knows how the season would have played out if that return did not happen?

It's easy to split hairs, and every team can make "woulda coulda shoulda" claims, but the key is taking action on them.

Enter Smith.

He was well-liked in Washington, both by players and the media, but the opportunity to return to Pittsburgh was too much to pass, Smith implied to Fittipaldo.

"I get emotional talking about it because I haven't lived here in a long time. Growing up here, the Steelers really stick with you. They really do."

Along with shoring up coverage units, Smith will look to add another year to the rotating door that has been Steelers punters over the last few seasons. Or perhaps incumbent, Drew Butler, will hold off free agent signee Brian Moorman.

However that plays out, Smith will at least be doing it in Pittsburgh, the city where it all started.

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