PITTSBURGH — Keith Butler couldn’t help but laugh.

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ defensive coordinator knows his group is having a hard enough time stopping the most basic plays during its bumpy start, let alone the gimmick Baltimore threw out last week when Ravens tight end Maxx Williams lined up between the guard and center then caught a 22-yard pass from Joe Flacco.

“When have they ever been fair to the defense?” Butler said with a shrug on Thursday when asked if a play such as that should be legal.

“When are they ever going to be fair to the defense? That ain’t happening. We’ve got to adjust.”

The quicker the better if Pittsburgh (1-2-1) wants to avoid falling further off the pace in the resurgent AFC North.

All the Steelers have to do this week is slow down the Atlanta Falcons (1-3), who will come to Heinz Field with quarterback Matt Ryan, star wide receiver Julio Jones and budding rookie star Calvin Ridley.

“Seems like we’re playing against the best quarterbacks in the league and the best daggum receivers in the league,” Butler said.

“It’s gonna help us in the long run. Right now, I wish we didn’t have to play against them. But we’re learning from it. I think we’re getting better.”

Pittsburgh is 30th in the league in yards allowed and 26th in points allowed.

The previous time they finished in the bottom third of the league in either category came during Chuck Noll’s final season in 1991.

The problem is there isn’t just one problem. Communication issues. Poor tackling. An influx of new faces that have yet to jell. The list of Pittsburgh’s defensive shortcomings is growing by the week.

BROWNS: Defensive back Jabrill Peppers said he has stopped going out in public by himself in downtown Cleveland following hostile confrontations with fans unhappy with the way he’s played.

Peppers said he has endured verbal taunts and some joking in the past, but that lately some of the encounters have nearly gotten physical.

“When you walk up on another man, that’s a hostile situation,” Peppers said following practice. “For me, I have way more to lose than the average guy. So it puts me in kind of a funky situation where I can’t even go get daily toiletries.”

PANTHERS: Three-time Pro Bowl tight end Greg Olsen returned to practice on a limited basis just four weeks after re-breaking his right foot in the team’s Sept. 9 regular season opener.

Coach Ron Rivera says Olsen won’t play Sunday against the Giants and his status will be re-evaluated next week.