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fordfixer
08-12-2010, 12:35 AM
Defensive back Gay's versatility pays off
By John Harris, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Thursday, August 12, 2010
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 94515.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_694515.html)

William Gay is quietly becoming the Steelers' new Deshea Townsend.

Gay, who started 14 games at left cornerback last season, is now the team's nickel back. He's also the second-team right cornerback and has been working out at safety during training camp, along with continuing to perform on special teams.

Replaced at left corner by Bryant McFadden, Gay is smartly expanding his horizons and figuring out new ways to get on the field.

"You always want to be prepared for anything," said Gay, who played in every game in his first three seasons. "You can't sit back and say I'm on the second team or I'm not in a starting role. (In) this league, you're one injury away from being at a different position."

Gay is taking over the role held by Townsend, who played 12 seasons with the Steelers.

Townsend, recently signed by the Indianapolis Colts, lost his starting job at left cornerback to McFadden in 2008. For the better part of the past two seasons, Townsend played nickel back and safety.

"When Deshea did it, they kind of liked putting me behind him," Gay said.

When McFadden suffered an arm injury in the sixth game of the 2008 season, Gay replaced him. McFadden reclaimed the starting job late that season, which culminated in a Super Bowl XLIII victory. When McFadden signed with Arizona, Gay became the starter in 2009. McFadden replaced Gay as the starter this spring after being acquired in a draft-day trade.

In his role as nickel back, Gay has to read his keys like a safety and be able to play close to the line of scrimmage and tackle, while also falling back to cover receivers. He plays when there are three wide receivers on the field.

In the AFC North, the Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens have talented receiving corps. The Bengals boast a three-receiver lineup featuring Terrell Owens, Chad Ochocinco and Antonio Bryant, who all have been No. 1 receivers in the NFL. Gay will be expected to cover the slot, or third, receiver.

"I knew the nickel since I first got here," said Gay, who played nickel back to open the 2008 season. "The league's evolving where you've got three top receivers that can be on the field at the same time. You're going to need your starting corners and you're going to also need a nickel that can stop those receivers."

Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said the Steelers feature an extra defensive back 60 percent of the time.

"In our scheme of things, we want people to embrace their role. I would hope that Will would know he's going to virtually get the same amount of snaps he's always got," LeBeau said Wednesday. "I've been particularly pleased with the way he's come to training camp in peak condition. He's making plays. Will is playing good football."

If Gay can provide a strong presence at nickel back, it will give the Steelers depth at a position that lacks quality around the league.

Wide receiver Hines Ward said the Steelers attempt to create mismatches against defenses featuring three cornerbacks because it's difficult for most teams to adequately cover three receivers.

"A lot of corners can't play nickel. It's a total different ballgame inside," Ward said. "Nowadays, teams run three wides so you really have to have three legitimate cornerbacks on your team and a lot of teams don't have that."

Gay believes that starting at cornerback last season will ease his transition to playing nickel back.

"Playing 14-16 games, you know every situation an offense can throw at you," Gay said. "My mentality is to be a starter in the NFL. That never changed since I got here (in 2007). I prepare like a starter every day whether the role is nickel or safety or starting corner."

stlrz d
08-12-2010, 07:57 AM
Good for him. He had a rough season last year. Hopefully he can rebound in his new role.

SteelHoss
08-12-2010, 02:53 PM
Good for him. He had a rough season last year. Hopefully he can rebound in his new role.

I agree. His confidence was definitely shaken last season. We shall see in a couple of days. Man, am I primed for some Steeler Football! WOOOOOO! :tt2 :Clap :tt2 :Clap :tt2

papillon
08-12-2010, 11:01 PM
Good for him. He had a rough season last year. Hopefully he can rebound in his new role.

Isn't this the role he played the year before last and did very well?

Pappy

frankthetank1
08-13-2010, 07:33 AM
Good for him. He had a rough season last year. Hopefully he can rebound in his new role.

Isn't this the role he played the year before last and did very well?

Pappy

he was great two seasons ago in the nickel and even starting when bmac was hurt. dont know what happened to him last season though. i think in the nickel he will do well

Shoe
08-13-2010, 09:53 AM
Isn't this the role he played the year before last and did very well?

Pappy

Not trying to nitpick here but, I don't think you can say he did "very well" in that role. He played well enough for a rookie in that role. But it's not like he was Everson Walls as a rookie, or anything even remotely close. I don't recall him making any picks, any big plays really. And I'm not bashing him that year, because I was optimistic (for him) following it too.

But I think the only thing you can say about that year for him was that he didn't totally flop and get picked on mercilessly (as he did last year, e.g.) And given last year, I think he has a lot to prove just as a NFL caliber football player IMO.

cruzer8
08-13-2010, 10:24 AM
Isn't this the role he played the year before last and did very well?

Pappy

Not trying to nitpick here but, I don't think you can say he did "very well" in that role. He played well enough for a rookie in that role. But it's not like he was Everson Walls as a rookie, or anything even remotely close. I don't recall him making any picks, any big plays really. And I'm not bashing him that year, because I was optimistic (for him) following it too.

But I think the only thing you can say about that year for him was that he didn't totally flop and get picked on mercilessly (as he did last year, e.g.) And given last year, I think he has a lot to prove just as a NFL caliber football player IMO.

He played very well in that role. He did exactly what the defense asked him to do.

papillon
08-13-2010, 11:01 AM
Isn't this the role he played the year before last and did very well?

Pappy

Not trying to nitpick here but, I don't think you can say he did "very well" in that role. He played well enough for a rookie in that role. But it's not like he was Everson Walls as a rookie, or anything even remotely close. I don't recall him making any picks, any big plays really. And I'm not bashing him that year, because I was optimistic (for him) following it too.

But I think the only thing you can say about that year for him was that he didn't totally flop and get picked on mercilessly (as he did last year, e.g.) And given last year, I think he has a lot to prove just as a NFL caliber football player IMO.

Yea, I also don't remember him getting torched or giving up play after play after play, so, my definition of "very well" is that he wasn't a liability. Clearly, last year he struggled, so much so, that by the time the Steelers played Oakland Burnett and others were getting snaps.

I think he'll be a good player to have that can backup cornerbacks and possibly even a little safety. He just wasn't ready to play every down.

Pappy

calmkiller
08-13-2010, 11:03 AM
Sorry, but this is such a crap article. They though so little of gay that they went out and traded for the player they said wasn't worth what they are now paying him (Mcfadden) No where in this article does it say how he lost his job last year and he has been demoted to solely playing the nickle. Burnett and Lewis are the twos at L and RCB. This is a fluff rah rah article that doesn't state what really happen. He was down right horrible last year and the article expects us to forget his state of play last year and be excited about him this year. I am sorry, I hope he figures out what was wrong last year, but I am more excited to see any of the new CBs to show up.

rpmpit
08-13-2010, 02:35 PM
"William Gay is quietly becoming the Steelers' new Deshea Townsend."

I kinda wish we still had the old Deshea Townsend :(

SteelHoss
08-13-2010, 02:53 PM
Gay made a couple of key plays in '08 including a pick near the endzone IRC. Lets give him a chance to redeem himself for what happened last season. If he falters, I'm sure the coaches won't hesitate to sit him on the pine. :tt1 :tt1 :tt1 :tt1

anger 82&95
08-13-2010, 08:18 PM
Sorry, but this is such a crap article. They though so little of gay that they went out and traded for the player they said wasn't worth what they are now paying him (Mcfadden) No where in this article does it say how he lost his job last year and he has been demoted to solely playing the nickle. Burnett and Lewis are the twos at L and RCB. This is a fluff rah rah article that doesn't state what really happen. He was down right horrible last year and the article expects us to forget his state of play last year and be excited about him this year. I am sorry, I hope he figures out what was wrong last year, but I am more excited to see any of the new CBs to show up.For some reason, the play that stands out to me is Gay getting completely steamrolled by Adrian Peterson.

stlrz d
08-13-2010, 08:57 PM
Sorry, but this is such a crap article. They though so little of gay that they went out and traded for the player they said wasn't worth what they are now paying him (Mcfadden) No where in this article does it say how he lost his job last year and he has been demoted to solely playing the nickle. Burnett and Lewis are the twos at L and RCB. This is a fluff rah rah article that doesn't state what really happen. He was down right horrible last year and the article expects us to forget his state of play last year and be excited about him this year. I am sorry, I hope he figures out what was wrong last year, but I am more excited to see any of the new CBs to show up.

For some reason, the play that stands out to me is Gay getting completely steamrolled by Adrian Peterson.

What DB hasn't been steamrolled by AP?

ikestops85
08-13-2010, 11:16 PM
I don't know how Gay is going to play as the nickel back. I don't think he has ever done it before. I think Deshea was the nickel back in 08 and Gay split time with McFadden. In fact he played at least as well as McFadden if not better.

I still think if he gets his confidence back he will be a solid player for us. Now I wouldn't be against one of the 2nd year corners stepping it up and become a star.