[B]Curtis Brown Looking to Make a Big Impact in Season Two with Steelers[/B]
July 5th, 2012 by Matt Loede
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.
[B]Steelers 2012 Position Battles: Cornerback[/B]
July 9th, 2012
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?
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.
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?
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.
I think it was 2010 when Lewis got called for the boneheaded penalties...
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.
[QUOTE=phillyesq;515454]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.[/QUOTE]
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).
[B]Ike Taylor Thinks Cortez Allen Can Be Way Better Than Himself[/B]
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.
[QUOTE=Ike Taylor;515604]Yeah, there's a lot of guys that can catch better than me[/QUOTE]
That's the understatement of the millenium...:p
[B][B]Can Steelers Cortez Allen Beat Keenan Lewis For #2 Spot?[/B]
[/B]Jul 11th, 2012 by CraigSteelers
[B]The only man known to be able to tackle Rob Gronkowski.....[/B]
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.