Before the Super Bowl was even over, many of us in Steelers Nation knew that the secondary was the kryptonite to its own team. The re-signing of Face Me Ike was the elephant in the room and everyone knew the team needed to draft a corner or two as well. The Steelers singed Ike and got a couple of rookies from the draft. But, injuries have plagued the secondary from the very beginning that has shrouded a cloud over any sort of clarity to the situation. So who will Mike Tomlin choose to keep when he narrows the roster down to 53 players by September?
1. Ike Taylor – No brainer. Just signed a big contract and is considered the top back for the team
2. Bryant McFadden – Even though B-Mac hasn’t played much in the preseason, no current man on the roster or acquisition is in place to usurp him from his #2 post.
3. William Gay – Gay is not the best choice in the long run for the team. But, he is necessary because of his familiarity with the system. He will continually get burned, but there are no other experienced backs with his speed and experience. Lucky dog… for now. This is more than likely his last year with the team unless he has a huge year to make Colbert and Co. think twice.
4. Cortez Allen – Not many are giving this guy a chance because he hasn’t had many reps due to injuries and is a rookie. But guess what, he’s fast and tall and had a great pro day that showed a lot of promise to the FO. He would be an asset on the practice squad and can easily work his way up the depth chart. He will be good in nickel and dime packages and could really help the Cover 2 scheme – mainly by being an object to throw over across the middle. Go too deep with that pass and Troy or Clark will be there to snag the gift.
5. Curtis Brown – He hasn’t shed the Texas to Steeler curse quite yet. But, I think the Steelers will give their rookies all a good chance to make their way up the charts this season. Curtis showed some good stuff in camp, but suffered a bit in the games. That will improve over time (at least it should) as he gets more chances in dime packages.
6. Donavan Warren – Another youngin’ but this guy has proven himself in camp to have a place on the roster. He has better agility than Keenan Lewis which is the deciding factor between the two. Keenan Lewis is a bust and the Steelers must move on. Donavan Warren will show them the way how.
1. Troy Polamalu – Duh. Will he be part of this list next year? We won’t really know until after the season is over since the team does not negotiate contracts during the season.
2. Ryan Clark – Speedy ‘Tweety’ Clark is a good compliment to Troy in the secondary. He’s getting a bit older, but still has the ball skills and continues to hit hard. Not sure where he will be on this list next season as younger safeties may take his place.
3. Will Allen – Allen became a Steeler last season and stepped in during Polamalu’s absence. Again, we have another player who is familiar with the system and hasn’t done anything glaring to get him released from the team. Cromartie-Smith and Harris were brought in to fill in a CB even though they have safety experience. They weren’t brought in for that, and I doubt that they will be asked to join the team in that capacity.
4. Ryan Mundy – Ryan will stick around mainly for the same reason as Will Allen is with his youth being an alluring factor.
So who does that leave out?
Keenan Lewis – starting his third season, he has shown no promise whatsoever. Sure he had an INT in the game against Philly, but he has been unproductive when he has had to step in since he’s been drafted. Bust.
Da’mon Cromartie-Smith – DC-S was brought in to stop the bleeding during the preseason when Taylor and B-Mac were both on the injury list. The 2nd team couldn’t be on the field all night, so something had to be done.
Macho ‘Mucho’ Harris – He’s gone for the same reasons as Cro-Smith.
Looking over the list, the secondary doesn’t look too much like a lost cause. Hopefully, they can get their shit together this season and help the team make another deep playoff run by fending off the ‘big play’ that tends to burn the team on a regular basis. By next season, I think we will see a bunch of moves made in the secondary because of contract negotiations to some and younger talent getting better for others.