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Keith Butler promoted to Steelers' defensive coordinator

Butler has spent 12 seasons as the linebackers coach in Pittsburgh.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are promoting from within to replace longtime defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau. Keith Butler, who has been the linebackers coach in Pittsburgh since 2003, will take over for LeBeau, the team announced Tuesday. Butler has long been viewed as the successor to LeBeau, who decided to part ways with the Steelers after 11 seasons.

Butler worked below LeBeau during the team's three Super Bowl appearances over the last 10 years. He oversaw the development of linebackers like 2008 Defensive Player of the Year James Harrison, as well as All-Pros LaMarr Woodley, Joey Porter and Lawrence Timmons. Despite receiving overtures for the defensive coordinator position with teams like the Miami Dolphins, Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans in the past, Butler has stayed in Pittsburgh, even after Mike Tomlin was hired as the new head coach in 2007.

While Butler has experience with LeBeau's scheme, the defense might change with him at the helm. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Tomlin could have more of a say with the defense going forward. The Steelers ended the 2014 season ranked as the No. 18 overall defense in the NFL, their worst finish in more than 20 years. They also ranked toward the bottom of the league in sacks and struggled to get defensive stops in key situations. Fixing those issues will be a chief priority for Butler and Tomlin.

Assistants and former Steelers linebackers Joey Porter and Jerry Olsavsky are considered favorites to replace Butler as the linebackers coach.