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hawaiiansteel
06-05-2012, 02:27 AM
Hopes are high for 3 young CBs

June 3, 2012
Bob Labriola - Steelers Digest

http://prod.static.steelers.clubs.nfl.com//assets/images/imported/PIT/photos/2011_Player_Centerpieces/2011_SEA_Keenan_Lewis.jpg

Maybe William Gay was on to something.

Maybe the guy who tied for the team lead in interceptions last season with Ike Taylor and Troy Polamalu, who tied for second on the team in passes defensed with Polamalu, who played a lot of cornerback for a team that won a lot of games, saw the handwriting on the wall. Granted, William Gay never was a threat to make the Pro Bowl and his lot with the Steelers always was going to be as a contributor and not a star. But still, he was not a disposal part.

That’s why it was eye-opening when Gay left the Steelers as an unrestricted free agent for an Arizona Cardinals team that definitely did not break the bank to sign him.

As the Steelers head into their third week of OTAs, Gay’s rationale behind his career move is coming into focus. Based on what has been happening on the field during the six OTAs to date, Gay was looking at an immediate future with the Steelers where if he were not disposable then he certainly was looking replaceable.

There are many interesting story lines that will accompany the Steelers to Saint Vincent College when they open training camp there sometime in late July, and at the top of any list of those is the promise shown by the team’s trio of up-and-coming cornerbacks – Keenan Lewis, Curtis Brown and Cortez Allen.

The trio was listed in the previous sentence in the order by which they came to the Steelers, with Lewis, a fourth-year pro, being the senior member, and with Brown and Allen coming in the third and fourth rounds, respectively, of the 2011 NFL Draft. They are still listed by seniority, because as of right now there is no definitive way to list them based on their status for the upcoming 2012 season. Right now, all three cornerbacks still are in the mix for everything, including the starting spot opposite Ike Taylor.

“In the secondary, we are in good shape but our young corners are going to have to step in there and fill the void of Will Gay,” said defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau. “Will also played nickel, so there will probably be a couple of players vying to fill the role of the two jobs Will Gay did for us.”

Nothing will be won or lost in this competition until the pads go on at training camp, but don’t take that to mean the work already hasn’t begun in earnest. Two weeks into OTAs, Brown seems to be around the football an awful lot during 7-on-7 and team drills; Lewis has been staying late regularly to work on his craft; and Allen continues to look and act like an NFL cornerback.

“Curtis Brown excelled on special teams (as a rookie),” said LeBeau. “He showed a willingness to compete, get to the ball and I’m sure that his tackles were up near the top. He stood out every week. He has great speed and quickness.

“Allen played more from scrimmage for us (in 2011) and also did a good job on special teams. I like his length. He’s a nice, tall, well-coordinated athlete who to my observation at least to this point has the demeanor you are looking for in a defensive corner. Corners have to have a very short memory. It isn’t all going to be good for them. This young man can handle adversity, has faced adversity, and has had some good plays and some plays we’re working on to get better. In the final analysis, he did a heck of a job in our victory against New England. He took their wonderful tight end (Rob Gronkowski) and neutralized him. (Gronkowski) couldn’t get away from Allen. Allen also played very well in both Cincinnati games when they were putting the extra wide receiver out there with speed all over the field. He matched their speed and gave us a capable defensive plan.”

Allen’s rookie training camp was marred by some nagging injuries that had him miss the first three preseason games, but with a roster spot on the line in the preseason finale, he contributed two tackles and three passes defensed. Brown put on a similar strong finishing kick to his bid for a roster spot with four tackles, two passes defensed and a special teams tackle in the same preseason finale.

Allen and Brown forever will be linked because they were in the same draft class; Lewis, in turn, often is linked with Mike Wallace because they became friends while growing up in the same New Orleans neighborhood and then came to the Steelers as a pair of third-round picks in 2009.

“Keenan was pretty much our third or fourth cornerback all through (2011),” said LeBeau. “He played in all of the third-down situations, he played quite a bit of scrimmage football. We statistically led the National Football League in passing yardage yielded, percentages completed – there were a lot of pluses in the pass defense side of our defensive statistics. Had we not had four or five corners who could step in there and deliver on Sunday for us, we couldn’t have accumulated those statistics. Keenan has already proven he can do the job.

“We think the horizon is an upward thing for several of these men, and Keenan is one of those guys. I like his size. He has good length, tremendous speed, has competed at a top level all through his career. I think the future is bright for Keenan Lewis.”

William Gay likely saw the same thing, and that’s why he left for Arizona.

http://www.steelers.com/news/article-1/Hopes-are-high-for-3-young-CBs/03dda321-c194-4df7-874c-264d7992dc01

flippy
06-05-2012, 07:58 AM
Allen is going to be the best of the 3. He's a weapon to take someone out of a game plan.

Brown's the best cover guy and the hardest worker of the 3. He's perfect for covering the slot.

I'm not real big on Lewis for some reason. There's just something missing in his game. He's a good athlete with good size/speed. But I just don't see anything special in him like the other 2.

Oviedo
06-05-2012, 09:43 AM
Allen is going to be the best of the 3. He's a weapon to take someone out of a game plan.

Brown's the best cover guy and the hardest worker of the 3. He's perfect for covering the slot.

I'm not real big on Lewis for some reason. There's just something missing in his game. He's a good athlete with good size/speed. But I just don't see anything special in him like the other 2.

IMO Brown will be the best and I agree that Lewis is nothing special.

SidSmythe
06-05-2012, 10:36 AM
Lewis is one of those guys who has all the physical skills but just seems to not play instinctively.

Brown played well on Special Teams and played at Texas so he's got the most pressure on him to step up.

Allen might be overlooked b/c where he played college ball...so the verdict is still out on him.

ALL I know is 2 of these guys need to step up THIS YEAR!!

grotonsteel
06-05-2012, 10:59 AM
ALL I know is 2 of these guys need to step up THIS YEAR!!

+1


I agree with what you said.

phillyesq
06-05-2012, 12:03 PM
Allen is going to be the best of the 3. He's a weapon to take someone out of a game plan.

Brown's the best cover guy and the hardest worker of the 3. He's perfect for covering the slot.

I'm not real big on Lewis for some reason. There's just something missing in his game. He's a good athlete with good size/speed. But I just don't see anything special in him like the other 2.

I agree that Allen has the most upside. I think that Lewis should be able to be at least a serviceable starter on the outside. We haven't seen much of Brown with the defense, but he has the raw ability to contribute.

You can never have enough good corners, but this area of the team is starting to look more like a potential strength than the liability that it has been in the past.

RuthlessBurgher
06-05-2012, 01:12 PM
this area of the team is starting to look more like a potential strength than the liability that it has been in the past.

Imagine if our corners and our o-line suddenly change from liability to strength...what will we complain about? Kickers and 3rd string TE's? :p

Slapstick
06-05-2012, 01:26 PM
Imagine if our corners and our o-line suddenly change from liability to strength...what will we complain about? Kickers and 3rd string TE's? :p

No. Running a balanced offense will be next...

RuthlessBurgher
06-05-2012, 01:42 PM
No. Running a balanced offense will be next...

I meant what will WE complain about...not what will HE complain about...if you catch my drift.

hawaiiansteel
06-05-2012, 01:52 PM
IMO Brown will be the best and I agree that Lewis is nothing special.


haven't you heard? Keenan Lewis is going to the Pro Bowl...;)

hawaiiansteel
06-17-2012, 07:56 PM
Steelers May Have Another Outstanding Louisiana Native at Cornerback

by Neal Coolong on Jun 17, 2012

http://cdn3.sbnation.com/entry_photo_images/4375156/136010764_extra_large.jpg

Steelers CB Ike Taylor, a native of Harvey, La., was a 4th round pick by the Steelers in 2003. Taylor became a starter in 2005, lost the role briefly in 2006, but regained it and has been there ever since.

In the works has been the development of 2009 3rd round pick Keenan Lewis, a native of New Orleans. It looks as if Lewis will take over the starting cornerback role vacated by William Gay.

Even at a position many consider to be a deep strength for the Steelers in 2012, there still may be another Louisiana product moving his way up the ranks.

Undrafted free agent Terry Carter was noted by Dejan Kovacevic as having three interceptions during Wednesday's minicamp session. Steel City Insider's Jim Wexell noted a few plays Carter made that same day, noting defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau's excitement over them.

A team can never have too many good cornerbacks, and while Carter may not have been running with the first team defense against the first team offense, making plays is making plays. Coaches have to take notice of a guy who's simply out there making plays.

Carter was undrafted out of Louisiana Tech (alma mater of Terry Bradshaw), and was All-WAC first team his senior season. He earned that position with only one interception on the year - suggesting teams wouldn't throw at him. La. Tech won the WAC championship in 2011.

This isn't to suggest he is easily on the same path as his fellow Louisiana coverage brethren, but again, making plays is making plays.

He may be the Steelers' training camp hero in 2012.

http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/6/17/3091293/pittsburgh-steelers-2012-training-camp-terry-carter-cornerbacks-louisiana#storyjump

Oviedo
06-18-2012, 07:41 AM
I think for the first time in years we have a good talent base at CB. Now it is time to get a real decent playmaker at Free Safety.

The thought we have to play Denver with Manning Game 1 and Ryan Clark won't play is unsettling. Mundy clearly proved in the last Denver game what he can't do.

8467thekraken
06-18-2012, 10:43 AM
Gonna be a different story this year. The team was really depleted when we went up against the Broncos.

Plus I think that it will be better for Mundy this time around. He'll have the whole summer to prepare for this game.

I expect this to be a lopsided victory for the Steelers.

flippy
06-18-2012, 10:59 AM
I think for the first time in years we have a good talent base at CB. Now it is time to get a real decent playmaker at Free Safety.

The thought we have to play Denver with Manning Game 1 and Ryan Clark won't play is unsettling. Mundy clearly proved in the last Denver game what he can't do.

I'd be interested to see if Cortez, Brown, or Lewis could play safety.

grotonsteel
06-18-2012, 11:06 AM
Gonna be a different story this year. The team was really depleted when we went up against the Broncos.

Plus I think that it will be better for Mundy this time around. He'll have the whole summer to prepare for this game.

I expect this to be a lopsided victory for the Steelers.

Steelers will win but I doubt it will be loopsided win for Steelers. Steelers are more often than not involved in close games.

With healthy D-line i expect Steelers D to perform better. Mundy played well in that game except for the big mistake he made. Maybe it was communication gap.

I still think Mundy is good enough backup safety.

birtikidis
06-18-2012, 12:26 PM
I meant what will WE complain about...not what will HE complain about...if you catch my drift.
We do have a situation at RB that could be scary. If Ike doesn't do what we HOPE he can do, we may be in trouble. Thanks to the salary cap, we will ALWAYS have SOMETHING to complain about!

Shawn
06-18-2012, 01:50 PM
Lewis is going to be a good DB. He needed more time than some, but I like what I seen of him as of late.

RuthlessBurgher
06-18-2012, 03:27 PM
I think for the first time in years we have a good talent base at CB. Now it is time to get a real decent playmaker at Free Safety.

The thought we have to play Denver with Manning Game 1 and Ryan Clark won't play is unsettling. Mundy clearly proved in the last Denver game what he can't do.

The game plan this time around with Manning at the helm will not involve a cover zero scheme with the safeties up to the line to protect against Tebow's running game.

Oviedo
06-18-2012, 04:15 PM
I'd be interested to see if Cortez, Brown, or Lewis could play safety.

I'm wondering if this Terry Carter kid could play Safety. Seems like the ballhawk we don't have back there in Clark.

hawaiiansteel
06-21-2012, 09:43 PM
Position battles

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 20, 2012
posted by Dale Lolley

I did a radio spot with Greg Linelli today and he asked me about which position battle for the Steelers I am most looking forward to seeing - or at least something along those lines.

To me, I feel the cornerback position will be the most interesting.

Currently, Keenan Lewis is holding down the starting spot opposite Ike Taylor, with second-year players Curtis Brown and Cortez Allen pushing.

One of those three will also serve as the slot corner as well. Brown seems best suited for that position, but Allen's athleticism is hard to deny.

Lewis, however, played very well last season as the third corner and has much more experience than the other two.

Unless Dick LeBeau can come up with a way to get all three corners young corners on the field at the same time, somebody is going to be disappointed.

What position battle are you looking forward to?

@ Speaking of Linelli, he has long been one of the underrated and underutilized radio hosts in the Pittsburgh market.

Soon, he won't be.

Greg is moving on to greener pastures. Good luck to him.

http://www.observer-reporter.com/or/sidelines/

hawaiiansteel
07-06-2012, 04:10 PM
Curtis Brown Looking to Make a Big Impact in Season Two with Steelers

July 5th, 2012 by Matt Loede

http://cdn.steelersgab.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Curtis-Brown.jpg

In a recent look at the upcoming Steelers, Gerry Dulac of the Post-Gazette pointed out the “breakout player” for the season, and his claim is it will be CB Curtis Brown.

The Steelers decided to part with former starting cornerbacks Bryant McFadden and William Gay after the season, and one of the reasons is Curtis Brown — a third-round choice in 2011. Brown did not play in any of the defensive packages last season, but he caught the eye of the coaches when he led the team in special teams tackles (15) despite missing the final four games.

Brown (6-0, 185) showed on special teams that he is fast, athletic, tough and relentless. Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau will have him challenge fourth-year player Keenan Lewis for the starting corner spot opposite Ike Taylor. “Curtis Brown is a beast,” wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders said.

Brown stands 6-0, 185 lbs, and was a project at the DB spot, as he was a WR in high school. He does have many physical gifts, and the Steelers loved the progress that he’s made at the position, which is why they allowed McFadden and Gay to get away.

Last season in 12 games, he had 14 tackles, 11 solo and 3 assists with a forced fumble. He was also very good on special teams, getting credit for 10 stops.

He did miss some time with an injury, as he had his meniscus repaired after going on IR, missing the last three games of the regular season.

Look for Brown to get plenty of chances to be the starter at the corner spot opposite Taylor in 2012.

http://www.steelersgab.com/2012/07/05/curits-brown-looking-to-make-a-big-impact-in-season-two-with-steelers/

hawaiiansteel
07-09-2012, 05:26 PM
Steelers 2012 Position Battles: Cornerback

July 9th, 2012

http://images.wikia.com/pittsburghsteelers/images/7/75/IkeTaylor.jpg

The Steelers have 2 open Cornerback positions at the moment. They need a starting CB across from Ike Taylor and they need a nickel cornerback. This could be a very heated battle this year. There are three young up and coming players who have shown promise and will fight it out for these spots.

This will be a big year for the Steelers. They went from William Gay and Bryant McFadden who are guys that have started in this league to guys who have rarely seen the field. Keenan Lewis has absorbed the most playing time but still is an untested youngster. Cortez Allen played off and on before his injury and Curtis Brown while a special teams demon did not play defense this past season. These guys will be tested this year and we will see if the Steelers are ready for the future or if the team will need to look at the secondary heading into next offseason.

All three of these guys will have a role on this team. There are 3 of them and there is a starter, nickel and dime position to be had. So who becomes the starter and who becomes the nickelback?

http://nicepickcowher.com/files/2012/05/5855804.jpg

Lets start with Keenan Lewis. Lewis was the nickelback last season. He got on the field every game and had one start. Lewis picked off one pass against Kansas City. He did not do a bad job when on the field. He was consistent in what he did. Lewis played Steelers football. He did not really get burned but did have the receiver catch the ball in front of him and make the tackle. He made the play but not the splash play.

Lewis should be the front runner and the expected starter. He has the most experience and has already played in this defense. If it were up to Ike Taylor Lewis would be the starter. Taylor is expecting big things from Lewis saying “the expectations for him around here are sky high.”

He should be counted on as the guy who hits the field and takes charge of the position. Lewis had that oppurtunity last season though and did not take advantage. Taylor went down in the first preseason game with a broken thumb and Lewis had free reign to make plays and take the starting spot away from William Gay. He did not take advantage of his chance and that worries me for how much better did he really get this offseason.

Next is Curtis Brown. Brown was a special teams monster last season. He did not see the field as a defensive back though. Brown while with a lack of experience is the best suited to play the corner position the way the Steelers play defense. He is a solid zone corner that likes to tackle. He fits the scheme very well.

Brown will have to do a lot of work to crack the lineup this season though. Without touching the field last year and only being in his second season he has an uphill battle. Dick Lebeau does not like young guys. He likes players to wait three years to play in his system. Brown will need a monster preseason to make the starting lineup.

Lastly is Cortez Allen. Allen played off and on last season. He was given duties to take away Rob Gronkowski against the Patriots. He did well that day. The then saw more action up until he was injured late in the season. Allen has high potential in the NFL. After watching him last season though I still think he should be the replacement for Ryan Clark at Free Safety in the future. Allen showed that ability while taking on Gronkowski and he has the ability to work at the position and learn under Clark.

When all is said and done at the end of the day this is Keenan Lewis’ job to lose. He will head out with the first team in the preseason and be able to show what he has first. The real battle will be between Allen and Brown to see who takes over the nickel cornerback postion. My heart is on Brown but my money is on Allen. Rookies to not often see the field on defense. Allen was trusted to cover the best tight end in football. He has the advantage.

http://bleedblackandgold.com/blog/2012/07/09/steelers-2012-position-battles-cornerback/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+BleedBlackAndGold+%28Bleed+Bl ack+and+Gold%29

Slapstick
07-09-2012, 06:18 PM
Why is it that people want to take a guy like Cortez Allen, who really did a decent job on a freak like Gronkowski (Gronk's stats look pretty good in that game, but I'm not a stat geek and I didn't think any of his catches were particularly meaningful), and turn him into a free safety?

NorthCoast
07-10-2012, 08:55 AM
Lewis was called for a few bonehead penalties last season that I recall. Seems he has issues with focus at times but I think he can be the equivalent of a Willy Gay, which is not necessarily a bad thing in the Steelers scheme.

Slapstick
07-10-2012, 10:52 AM
I think it was 2010 when Lewis got called for the boneheaded penalties...

phillyesq
07-10-2012, 03:15 PM
Just saw a twitter report that Cortez Allen is working out with Ike Taylor and Tom Shaw at the WWOS complex. Allen has a lot of raw ability and it's great to hear that he's working to improve himself in the offseason. I think he probably has the highest upside of the three young corners and it would be great to see him continue to grow.

RuthlessBurgher
07-10-2012, 03:38 PM
Just saw a twitter report that Cortez Allen is working out with Ike Taylor and Tom Shaw at the WWOS complex. Allen has a lot of raw ability and it's great to hear that he's working to improve himself in the offseason. I think he probably has the highest upside of the three young corners and it would be great to see him continue to grow.

I like Cortez as well. I liked his raw talent going into the draft last year, but never thought that he would get playing time ahead of Curtis Brown (I saw Brown as being more pro-ready to be able to contribute right away, but all being the long-term stash-away project with tremendous upside for the future). The fact that Allen was able to get playing time as a rookie surprised me, and made me think that he could be even better than I had thought. I think the fact that Brown played only special teams is not necessary a knock on Brown, but rather more of a testiment to Allen (in spite of injuries hampering him, he was still able to adjust to the pro game coming from the Citadel).

hawaiiansteel
07-11-2012, 04:27 PM
Ike Taylor Thinks Cortez Allen Can Be Way Better Than Himself

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012 by Dave Bryan

Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor sang the praises of second year cornerback Cortez Allen Tuesday on his weekly radio show, which is broadcast live on Trib Live Radio.

Allen, the Steelers fourth round draft pick last year out of the Citadel, has been training this offseason with Taylor down in South Florida at the Wide World of Sports Complex under watchful eye of trainer Tom Shaw. "I've got Cortez Allen down here and he's working like a beast," said Taylor, when asked by co-host John Harris who Taylor had down there from the Steelers training with him this offseason.

"He's a very mature second year guy. The reason why he is so mature is he went to a military academy school," said Taylor. "He kind of had to grow up early from his childhood. He's kind of old to be a second year guy."

Taylor continued on with his assessment of Allen. "He knows what it takes and he wants it. He wants to get better. The good thing I like about Cortez is he doesn't say much, he comes to work and he does what he needs to do."

The praise did not stop there as Taylor added, "This dude could be way better than me - if he can stay healthy."

Taylor did caution that the mental aspect of playing the corner position is what Allen will have to show is not an obstacle for him. "Yeah everybody's got the physical attributes. Yeah, there's a lot of guys that can catch better than me, but upstairs - mentally - that's what separates the good guys consistently and the great guys," said Taylor. "Mentally can they do it for 16 weeks?"

Allen, who had surgery this past offseason on what is believed to have been one of his shoulders, needs to stay on the field during training camp if he is to challenge Keenan Lewis for the starting spot opposite of Taylor. Last year Allen fought a hamstring injury for most of training camp and it forced him to miss the first three preseason games as result. When he finally played in the fourth and final preseason game against the Carolina Panthers, Allen flashed in his limited action at the left outside cornerback position and even forced a turnover on a defended pass.

Once the regular season started Allen saw time on special teams and ultimately some extended playing time on defense in dime and big nickel situations in the games against the Arizona Cardinals, New England Patriots and the Baltimore Ravens. In total Allen saw a total 60 snaps on defense over the course of 9 Steelers regular season games. Not bad at all for a Steelers rookie on defense. Curtis Brown, who was drafted a round ahead of Allen last April, didn't see the field at all on defense in his rookie year.

During the offseason practices it was reported that Lewis had been getting the first team reps opposite Taylor with Allen working as the nickel in sub-packages. It appears that will remain the pecking order when training camp opens up in just over two weeks from today in Latrobe. Does Allen have a shot at the starting spot that Lewis currently holds? Anything is possible, but rest assured that Allen will see the field quite a bit this year in some capacity.

One thing is for sure and that is you can certainly hear in the voice of Taylor that he thinks Allen has what it takes to be a good cornerback for years to come. He just needs to prove it now.

http://network.yardbarker.com/nfl/article_external/ike_taylor_thinks_cortez_allen_can_be_way_better_t han_himself/11192692

RuthlessBurgher
07-11-2012, 11:21 PM
Yeah, there's a lot of guys that can catch better than me

That's the understatement of the millenium...:p

hawaiiansteel
07-12-2012, 03:01 AM
Can Steelers Cortez Allen Beat Keenan Lewis For #2 Spot?

Jul 11th, 2012 by CraigSteelers

http://nicepickcowher.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/58/files/2012/07/03-30-33_cortez-allen_original.jpeg?c691c1

The only man known to be able to tackle Rob Gronkowski.....

Better yet, could Cortez Allen be better than Ike Taylor? That’s a question that wasn’t posed, but was actually suggested by Ike Taylor himself during his weekly radio spot on Trib Live Radio.

During his segment, Taylor spoke highly of Allen, as the two are training together during this offseason. Taylor said that Allen is mature and has the drive to continually improve himself. He also had this to say, "This dude could be way better than me – if he can stay healthy."

Say what you want about Face Me Ike and the stiff arm against him that put the Broncos into the next round of the playoffs last season. But, the guy is really good. He deserved the contract that he signed last season and lived up to the hype of getting paid that kind of money. He’s a great shut down corner, and Allen is wise to learn from such a strong minded veteran. Speaking of mentality – that’s one thing Taylor pointed out that Allen will need to break through if he wants to be one of the greats.

‘Yeah, everybody’s got the physical attributes. Yeah, there’s a lot of guys that can catch better than me, but upstairs – mentally – that’s what separates the good guys consistently and the great guys. Mentally can they do it for 16 weeks?’

All too true. It doesn’t take an MIT genius to play corner, but it does take someone with mental fortitude to play up against some of the great receivers in the game. There may be a bunch of plays where that player’s number isn’t called, but on the one play it is, you have to be mentally tough to stay focused and continue to have excellent coverage on your guy. Taylor is like that for the most part. Will Allen surpass his mighty professor?

Allen is the front runner in challenging Keenan Lewis for the #2 corner spot on the team. The running back situation along with the Mike Wallace ‘thing’ might be big news for fans during camp in a few weeks. But don’t forget about the emerging young’ins in the secondary who will be looking to capture spots on the roster after William Will Willie But Just Don’t Call Me Bill Gay’s departure. Cortez Allen and Curtis Brown are in their second year, and Keenan Lewis will be entering his 4th. That’s a fairly young trio considering Lewis has only started one game.

Be sure to watch these gentlemen if you are at camp this summer. And keep an eye out for all the tweets from the media and reports as the team works out and players begin to seize opportunities. I loved that the Steelers were able to draft Allen in the fourth round of last years draft. The saying goes that most players need a couple of seasons to fully learn and apply Dick LeBeau’s defense. Allen was a fast learner while he played numerous snaps in the nickel and dime roles. As was Curtis Brown. Both of these players have a shot of surpassing Lewis. My money is on Allen. He’s the faster guy with better hands. He’s mature, as noted by Taylor on his show, and just might give Taylor even a run for his money…. soon.

http://nicepickcowher.com/2012/07/11/can-steelers-cortez-allen-beat-keenan-lewis-for-2-spot/

steelz09
07-12-2012, 09:09 PM
With all being said, I see this competition as being a good thing. I'm not sure if Allen is ready but I'm the first to admit that I think the kid is going to be the real deal eventually .. if not this year, next. That picture of him tackling Gronkowski doesn't do it justice. Yes, it was very impressive that a CB could knock Gronk off his feet like that... but what was more impressive is that tackle caused the Pats to be 1 yard short of a first down causing them to punt.

Brown was a monster on ST without a doubt. Historically, that is like the #1 sign of becoming a really good defensive player for the Steelers.

hawaiiansteel
07-21-2012, 12:59 PM
CBs: Dark Knights on the Rise

By Jim Wexell
SteelCityInsider.net
Posted Jul 16, 2012

The Steelers have burned through the three cornerbacks who've started opposite Ike Taylor since 2006, but they're quietly confident in the young replacements.

There just has to be a nickname for Cortez Allen after the way he defensed Rob Gronkowski during the Steelers’ win over the New England Patriots last year.

“The Gronk Eraser”?

Not very magical, no, but Allen did slam the big tight end to the ground short of the sticks on the first third-down play of the second half. If nothing else, at least Allen has that memory.

“That was one of my favorite plays,” Allen said. “The picture for it was amazing. They got me in the air like a frog. I kind of looked like Troy [Polamalu] flying around. It was a great day for me.”

It was a great day for the Steelers, who not only beat Tom Brady, but they learned they just might have another big, physical cornerback in their pipeline.

So, how about a nickname?

“I’ve had so many,” Allen said. “Last year coach called me Robin. And there was “two dogs, one bone” for me and Curtis.”

Allen and Curtis Brown were the rookie cornerbacks fighting for playing time last season, so we get that.

But why did Mike Tomlin call Allen “Robin”?

“I got called Robin because it seemed like every time I would be there on a tackle Curtis would be there right before me. We battled back and forth on special teams, as far as making the tackle.”

Again, why Robin?

“The sidekick,” Allen said.

Oh, Batman and Robin?

“Right. And Curtis was Batman last year. This year we’re both Batman -- Batman and Batman. It’s fun. We’re just out there working.”

Batman, a.k.a. “The Dark Knight,” is rising in movie theaters this week. Allen and Brown hope to do the same the following week.

“We need them this year, point blank,” said Ike Taylor. “They improved at OTAs, but we’re going to go as far as they take us.”

Taylor, of course, is the other starting cornerback, has been the past 89 consecutive games, including post-season. The streak dates back to the last game of 2006 after then-coach Bill Cowher had benched Taylor for five games.

Starting opposite Taylor during his iron-man stretch have been Bryant McFadden, Deshea Townsend and William Gay. But those three are gone. In their places are Batman, Batman and Keenan Lewis.

Right now, Lewis as the edge and will most likely start the opener at left cornerback after a strong spring. But the other two, Allen and Brown, are coming off impressive rookie seasons and springs. They’ll be needed to provide depth and sub-package help.

“They bring something different,” Taylor said. “Cortez, he’s lanky, pretty much can run with anybody. Curt, he’s quick as a cat. So you’ve got two young guys who bring something different to the table. Both of them are aggressive and like to tackle.”

Brown, the smaller of the two at 6-0, 185, led the Steelers with 15 special teams tackles last season. The third-round pick’s 13 unassisted tackles nearly doubled the runners-up, Allen and Will Allen, who each made 7 unassisted special-teams tackles.

But Cortez Allen, the 6-1, 196-pound fourth-round pick, saw more time – much more time – in the secondary than did Brown. Allen played in 9 games defensively before he was shut down for the playoffs because of a shoulder injury. Brown didn’t play in the secondary and missed the final four games with a knee injury.

Brown was held out of several spring practices this year as a precaution for his knee, so Allen received more reps at the nickel position, a position that seems to be a natural spot for the smaller, more agile Brown.

“I didn’t get a chance last two-a-days to even do that at all, so he definitely has the experience edge there,” explained Brown. “This spring has been my introduction to it. It was pretty nice. It isn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I had fun doing it. Hopefully I’ll keep getting better and I might have a chance at that spot.”

Allen is nearly identical to Taylor in size and would appear to be his replacement-in-waiting. As per the Steelers’ way, Taylor’s teaching him how.

“He’s taught me how to be more attentive to technique, how to coach yourself, how to be critical of what you do as far as being a professional,” said Allen. “He’s a real professional. I’ve learned a lot from him just on how to play the game of football.”

And Taylor reciprocates the feelings. He likes what he sees in both young corners.

“I like them, so I’m confident in them,” said Taylor. “I’ll let y’all go with the ‘we’ll-see’ approach, but I’m confident in them right now.”

http://pit.scout.com/2/1202665.html

RuthlessBurgher
07-21-2012, 02:37 PM
The two-dogs-one-bone routine certainly worked for Tomlin with Sanders and Brown a couple of years ago.

hawaiiansteel
08-07-2012, 07:06 PM
Young corners learn on the fly with Steelers

By Mark Kaboly
Published: Tuesday, August 7, 2012

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Cornering the position

Keenan Lewis, Cortez Allen and Curtis Brown are competing for two jobs with the Steelers’ defense:

Ht Age Exp. T ST

Keenan Lewis 6-0 26 4 31 4

Cortez Allen 6-1 23 2 10 8

Curtis Brown 6-0 23 2 0 15

ST — special teams tackles

Curtis Brown considers himself a documentary freak, especially when it is anything regarding the Mayans and the 2012 phenomenon.

Brown doesn’t believe the end of the world is coming, but he believes 2012 could be the beginning of a new age … for the Steelers’ secondary.

The Steelers used consecutive picks in last year’s draft on cornerbacks, selecting Brown in the third round and Cortez Allen in the fourth, with the idea that they might eventually solidify what has long been viewed as the defense’s biggest weakness.

A year later, Allen and Brown have put together two solid weeks of training camp, and have legitimate shots of being in the starting lineup when the Steelers open the season Sept. 9 in Denver. That comes with a caveat — they need to stay healthy.

Both missed large portions of camp as rookies with hamstring injuries that stunted their development. Allen played some snaps last year, particularly during the 25-18 win over New England in Week 8, but Brown was relegated to special teams before a knee injury landed him on injured reserve late in the year.

For Brown, the injury bug was something new.

“I was hurt before, sure, but not that bad that had me miss that much practice,” Brown said. “Last year was difficult for me.”

Allen feels the same way.

“It is very important for me to stay healthy,” Allen said.

Brown (6-foot, 185) is pushing Keenan Lewis for the starting left cornerback position, and Allen (6-1, 196) has been the first-team nickel back since the spring.

Both have been impressive, especially Allen, who had a spectacular downfield interception during a two-minute drill last week.

“He knows what it takes, and he wants it,” veteran cornerback Ike Taylor said of Allen. “He wants to get better. The good thing I like about Cortez is he doesn’t say much, he comes to work and he does what he needs to do.”

Taylor also said, “This dude could be way better than me — if he can stay healthy.”

Allen never played nickel at The Citadel, and was introduced to it during the offseason because of need after William Gay signed with Arizona. The nickel in Dick LeBeau’s defense plays about 50 percent of the snaps, so it’s viewed as an important position to the Steelers.

“You have a lot to learn as far as what everybody else is doing,” Allen said. “There are different ways to play to put yourself in better positions. I learned a lot of that from Troy (Polamalu) as far the way he cheats the system as far as him making plays.”

Brown has more of an uphill battle to supplant Lewis, who replaced Gay at left corner in the nickel last year.

Brown turned heads on special teams by leading the team in tackles before getting injured, but he’s yet to play a defensive snap in the league.

“Keenan and Cortez had snaps last year, I didn’t,” said Brown, who also has been working at nickel. “So my competition is with myself trying to get better so that when my name is called I will be able to perform.”

The first opportunity will come Thursday during the Steelers’ first preseason game at Philadelphia.

“Every game is important,” Allen said. “It is a good chance for us to utilize the stuff we have been working on during training camp.”

http://triblive.com/sports/2355034-85/allen-brown-steelers-cortez-nickel-keenan-lewis-snaps-camp-cornerback

RuthlessBurgher
08-07-2012, 08:22 PM
Curtis Brown considers himself a documentary freak, especially when it is anything regarding the Mayans and the 2012 phenomenon.

Brown doesn’t believe the end of the world is coming, but he believes 2012 could be the beginning of a new age … for the Steelers’ secondary.

Wasn't the Spanish conquistador who was primarily responsible for the collapse of the Aztec Empire named Cortez?...weird. (Cortez may have also played somewhat of a small role in the Mayan's downfall as well, but you'd have to ask the expert Curtis Brown about that)...my son had to do a project on explorers in the last school year, so he was researching a bunch of them, but his report ultimately focused on Jacques Cartier up in Canada instead, if I remember correctly.

phillyesq
08-08-2012, 11:28 AM
Article on Cortez Allen:

http://www.observer-reporter.com/or/sports11/Steelers-Cortez-the-killer

I think Allen has a shot to be a real impact corner. Regardless of whether he starts, he'll certainly see a lot of playing time, and should be a nice injection of youth and athleticism to the D.

hawaiiansteel
08-11-2012, 09:48 PM
Steelers’ young cornerbacks learning lessons the hard way

By Ralph N. Paulk
Published: Friday, August 10, 2012

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PHILADELPHIA — Steelers cornerback Curtis Brown was surprisingly upbeat as he stood alone Thursday night near his locker inside Lincoln Financial Field.

Brown’s head was up and his spirits high moments after surrendering 70- and 44-yard touchdown passes on consecutive plays in the third quarter of the Steelers’ 24-23 defeat in their exhibition opener. It was baptism under fire for a second-year defensive back auditioning for the starting job opposite veteran Ike Taylor.

“Those were physical, not necessarily mental (mistakes),” coach Mike Tomlin said. “(Brown) was there to make a play on (the ball). He’s just got to make a play on it. On another one, we had the quarterback in the backfield, and we just left our feet, which allowed him to get out of the pocket and create space and time, and our coverage broke down.”

Despite the lapses in concentration, Brown didn’t pout. He seemed eager to get back to work Saturday at St. Vincent College to prepare for Indianapolis on Aug. 19 at Heinz Field.

“If you let something like this get to you, then you’re not fit for this game,” Brown said. “All I can do is evaluate myself and fix my mistake. ... It’s all fixable.”

Brown, with defensive backs coach Carnell Lake grading the highs and lows of an uneven performance, couldn’t afford to beat himself up. After all, no one would let him.

“We don’t have time for pointing fingers, and (Brown) can’t feel sorry for himself,” said Taylor, who played sparingly before being relieved by Brown. “Nobody is going to feel sorry for you in this game.”

Brown and Cortez Allen, the Steelers’ third- and fourth-round picks, respectively, in the 2011 NFL Draft, were schooled by a promising corps of young Philadelphia receivers who amassed 280 receiving yards, three touchdowns and 13 first-down catches. The lessons were less about technique than about willingness to overcome adversity.

Both flunked an early exam when the Eagles deployed two receivers to the strong side of the formation. While quarterback Nick Foles was eluding a pass rush, the cornerbacks lost sight of rookie receiver Damaris Johnson, who gathered in a floater for the 70-yard score.

If Brown and Allen are to challenge Keenan Lewis for the corner spot left vacant by William Gay’s departure, they’ll also need to be more consistent against the run.

At times they were caught out of position after Philadelphia’s running backs turned up field. Or they struggled to shed blockers, as Brown did when receiver Marvin McNutt tied him up to spring Bryce Brown for a 33-yard gain after the Eagles had taken a 14-13 lead.

Brown seemed to be ready on the next snap. He blanketed receiver Mardy Gilyard but failed to dislodge the ball as the two wrestled for possession near the goal line on the 44-yard scoring play.

“I should have looked up,” Brown said. “I had him covered pretty well, but I just didn’t take my eyes to the sky. Those are things that can be fixed in practice.

“The other play, I just fell. If you can’t stay on your feet, those things will happen. It’s a preseason game to see where I’m at, but I need to continue to work on my technique.”

Tomlin said errors are sometimes critical in terms of the outcome but added they can be good lessons learned.

“They have to learn on their own,” Taylor said. “I can only tell them so much. They have to understand things happen. Whether it’s a mental lapse, you have to go through some adversity. They have to experience it in games, the trials and errors.”

Safety Troy Polamalu is confident the Steelers’ second-year cornerbacks will be ready when the regular season begins on Sept. 9 in Denver.

“This is what the preseason is for, but it’s time for us to get better,” he said. “You try not to lose your confidence. You can tell there was a little pressure, a little more panic when you’re in game mode.

“It’ll come with time and experience. We’ve all given up plays. It’s better to do it now.”

http://triblive.com/sports/steelers/2372582-85/brown-steelers-cornerbacks-eagles-field-game-lessons-philadelphia-yard-allen

hawaiiansteel
08-24-2012, 02:34 PM
Steelers cornerbacks using size to their advantage

By Alan Robinson
Published: Thursday, August 23, 2012

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Steelers cornerback Keenan Lewis goes through drills during practice on the South Side Aug. 23, 2012.

By the numbers

The Steelers’ pass defense rankings by season, with starting cornerbacks:

2011, No. 1, 171.9 yards/game, Ike Taylor, William Gay

2010, No. 12, 214.1 yards/game, Ike Taylor, Bryant McFadden

2009, No. 16, 215.4 yards/game, Ike Taylor, William Gay

2008, No. 1, 156.9 yards/game, Ike Taylor, Bryant McFadden

2007, No. 3, 176.5 yards/game, Ike Taylor, Deshea Townsend


Nothing was going to hold back Keenan Lewis from winning the Steelers’ starting cornerback job opposite Ike Taylor. Especially not a holdout.

Lewis and wide receiver Mike Wallace have been close friends since their childhood days in New Orleans, with each starring at Perry Wallace High. They took different paths in college — Lewis to Oregon State, Wallace to Mississippi — but they were reunited when the Steelers drafted both in the third round in 2009.

Wallace became a starter and a big-yardage producer by his second season, while Lewis played mostly special teams until shifting into a more important role last season. They went their separate ways again last spring, if only briefly.

With Wallace possessing by far more bargaining power of the two, he chose not to sign his $2.742 million tender and held out, though he is expected back by next week. Lewis chose to sign his $1.26 million tender so he could compete for the starting job left vacant when William Gay wasn’t brought back.

With two preseason games remaining, Lewis appears to have the position locked up. Cortez Allen officially remains in the competition but is all but set as the nickel back. Lewis officially started only one game last season but played regularly because Gay shifted into the nickel back role whenever the Steelers lined up with an extra defensive back, which they did on about half of all downs.

“Our pass-defense numbers improved dramatically last year, and a great reason for that was the play of those three,” defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said Thursday, referring to Taylor, Lewis and Allen.

With three big corners — Taylor is 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds-plus, Allen is 6-1 and 200 and Lewis is 6-0 and 208 — LeBeau and defensive backs coach Carnell Lake can take a more aggressive approach in defending top wide receivers than they did when the smaller Gay and Bryant McFadden started. Those two alternated as starters every season from 2008-11, with McFadden leaving for one season (2009) to play for Arizona.

“We feel fortunate to have corners with that kind of length,” LeBeau said. “We’ve had Ike for some time. Yet when people see him in person they say, ‘We didn’t know he was that big.’ Ike is a big corner. Both Keenan and Cortez are very tall, reasonably well-weighted corners, and all three can run.”

When the Steelers had smaller cornerbacks, they often were forced to play one off the line of scrimmage to avoid physical mismatches. Now they can choose to play Taylor and Lewis — or Allen — in press coverage. Against the Patriots last season, Allen usually lined up against 6-6, 265-pound tight end Rob Gronkowski, who had three touchdown catches against the Steelers the season before.

“Coach Lake played both safety and corner, and he’s done a great job of the fundamentals of press coverage,” LeBeau said. “We like to press e_SEmD it gives a little tighter window for the quarterback. These guys are pretty accurate up here, and we like to mix it up. When we can, we like to challenge the receivers.”

The Steelers are not only bigger in the secondary, they’re also becoming more stable. No one has started consecutive seasons at left cornerback — the spot opposite Taylor — since Deshea Townsend from 2004-07, but Lewis could change that.

Not that they are providing much of a hint during the preseason how they will line up against Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning’s receivers — the starters are Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker — Sept. 9 in Denver.

“We’ll vary our looks. Sometimes we’ll press both. Sometimes we’ll press none. Sometimes we’ll use one up and one back. We don’t want the quarterback to get any pre-snap reads on the corners to see who’s up and who’s off,” LeBeau said.

For now, Lewis isn’t proclaiming he’s won the job.

“Definitely, I have things to work on,” he said. “I just come out and compete. I don’t try to worry about anybody’s spots. I just try to get better day by day. When you are out there with the 1s (the starters), there are always opportunities. But, like I said, you can make plays any point in time. Whenever they need me, I am ready to go.”

There’s no turning back now.

http://triblive.com/sports/2459358-85/lewis-season-taylor-steelers-ike-press-allen-lebeau-wallace-corners