Kirkland saw spot duty in 1992, hell he played DEFENSIVE LINE in Cowher's first game.
1993 Chad Brown was a rush end specialist, Deon Figures was the nickel back. Willie Williams also saw time on the field in 1993.
1994 Brentson Buckner saw action at DT/DE and took over full time when Gerald Williams got hurt. Jason Gildon inherited the rush end role Chad Brown had in 1993 because Brown was a starting ILB in 1994.
It's not even close. Not only does LeBeau not play his rookies, he and DL coach John Mitchell actually COACH their DL's to be something they weren't in college, thus negating the reasons we drafted them in the first place.
Or, maybe he just thought that neither Lewis nor Allen were quite ready until their respective opportunities came up...
But if he thought Lewis was the better player to the point that they let Gay walk, then he's an idiot for having Lewis as a backup for most of his first three seasons.
Opportunities my ass. Like my examples above show, it's the mindset of the coaches who run the system.
This defense is allegedly so hard to know that Darren Perry was a starter the MINUTE we drafted him.
Capers coaches, LeBeau doesn't.
I'm not sure why the debate is between Allen and Lewis. To me, that is a moot point.
The debate SHOULD be, why in the hell do you keep Ike Taylor and pay him 9.4 million? I've heard the argument that the Steelers feel that Ike + Allen > Allen + Lewis. That is incredibly short sighted from an organization standpoint. Ike MIGHT have 1 year left in the tank. There is no way, no how, Ike Taylor is worth over 9 million in the prime of his career let alone towards the end of it.
I've heard arguments that Lewis doesn't create turnovers... I have to laugh about that. He started for 1 year and played very Taylor-like but he plays the ball better than Ike ever has. Allen might be better at creating turnovers but again, that's not the comparison. The comparison should be the younger, affordable Lewis vs. the old and overpaid Ike Taylor.
The Steelers would have come close to breaking even with the Ike Cut + the Lewis signing due to dead money. Add to that, you save close to 10.5 MILLION DOLLARS next year because Ike isn't on the books.