Steelers trio starting to make the grade at ‘Linebacker U’

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier (50) waits to run a drill during an NFL football practice, in Pittsburgh, Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2016. The Steelers face the Denver Broncos in an NFL Divisional playoff football game in Denver on Sunday. Harrison had the day off from practice to rest. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
AP

PITTSBURGH (AP) The Pittsburgh Steelers are relying heavily on young linebackers Ryan Shazier, Bud Dupree and Jarvis Jones heading into this weekend's playoff game in Denver against Peyton Manning and the Broncos.

All three former first-round picks made significant contributions in last Saturday's victory over Cincinnati in the wild-card round.

Shazier had 13 tackles and forced a pair of fumbles, including a strip on Bengals running back Gio Bernard in the final minutes that gave Pittsburgh one last shot. Jones had a strip sack that led to a field goal while Dupree was a steady presence against the run.

Defensive coordinator Keith Butler says all three players are starting to pick up the intricacies of Pittsburgh's 3-4 defense and will need to keep improving if the Steelers want to advance.

AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton in Denver contributed to this report.

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