Keenan Lewis turning heads as the No. 2 Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback

Well Steeler Nation, after the black and gold convincingly defeated the Titans on Sunday, I think everyone can share in an enormous sigh of relief knowing that at least for now the team is back on track.

The litany of players who could take the game ball for Sunday’s performance is a virtual who’s who of Steeler veterans who showed this team is not too old, or too slow (Farrior aside) to make another run at the title this year. Big Ben’s five- touchdown performance on an injured foot is stuff of legends. Hines Ward catching two touchdown passes; including a leaping effort into the end zone over Titans defensive backs is stuff of fairy tales. And plugging in an aging Max Starks, who was sitting on his couch watching football the weekend before, and having him protect Ben’s blind side like he hadn’t missed a beat, was amazing.

I had to mention all of those individual players because they are the leaders of this football team, and their efforts are a direct link to the upswing in the Steeler’s performance. I mean c’mon man…..all week the team was told it couldn’t stop the run anymore, that Chris Johnson was going to be able to walk faster into the end zone then the team could run after him. And believe me, I was taking some of the bait. After Johnson broke that 30-yard run to start the game I certainly had an empty feeling in the bottom of my stomach. Than Ryan Clark was hit with that bogus roughing call to put the Titans in the red zone and I thought to myself here we go again. But this time there was no again. The Steelers clamped down and held the Titans to a field goal on the opening drive and the rest of the game was history.

While there are certainly other players who deserve to be given credit for the team’s performance this past weekend, I want to talk about one player in particular who has impressed me, and I believe may have a bright future.

Cornerback Keenan Lewis has turned my head a number of times this season, and with the ever-depreciating value of Bryant McFadden, Lewis is the Steelers best option to start as the No. 2 corner. Lewis’ stats on the season do not blow you away. He has 13 tackles, two passes defended, and 0 interceptions. But it is the famous eye-test you hear so much about that has me on Lewis’ bandwagon. There were a number of passes I saw on Sunday where Hasselbeck tried to make opposite shoulder throws, which on many accounts are impossible for the defensive player to guard. But Lewis was able to play those passes perfectly, standing up Titan receivers and not allowing them to come back for the ball. Lewis has always been touted as a physical specimen at 6ft, 210 pounds. The knock on Lewis was that he was unable to fully grasp the playbook, and was often out of position. Well those days might be over. I don’t want to make Lewis out to be the next Revis or anything like that, I’m simply saying that with everything that went right this Sunday, Lewis’ name should be thrown into the celebration as well. It can only be beneficial for the team to find another shutdown corner to play with Ike Taylor.

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  • stillernation58

    Er … I hope I read this wrong: “Steeler veterans who showed this team is not too old, or too slow (Farrior aside)”

    Farrior aside? Really? Correct me if I’m wrong, but pretty sure he led the team in tackles with something like 13 on Sunday. Just sayin’.

  • stillernation58

    Er … I hope I read this wrong: “Steeler veterans who showed this team is not too old, or too slow (Farrior aside)”

    Farrior aside? Really? Correct me if I’m wrong, but pretty sure he led the team in tackles with something like 13 on Sunday. Just sayin’.

  • craig.gottschalk

    An interesting post to point out Lewis. But I throw a ton of caution his way. His success was largely attributed to the pressure the defense placed on Hasselbeck. And, he was indeed beat badly late in the game. Hasselbeck threw to a wide open D. Williams that resulted in a touchdown. Lewis was covering Williams at the time. Instead of staying locked on the receiver, Lewis turned back to the QB and lost Williams and was never able to catch up. Terrible coverage that ended up in 6 points. Were the Steelers not far ahead and in a close game… say with Baltimore… the end result of that play could have been pretty bad for the Steelers. Lewis needs much more grooming. Much much more.

    @stillnation58 – Farrior is a toss up. He played much better than he as in the past. But his penalty in the end zone extended a drive that could have resulted in 6 points for the Titans. Although, I would take 13 tackles and one penalty over what he’s been doing any day.

  • craig.gottschalk

    An interesting post to point out Lewis. But I throw a ton of caution his way. His success was largely attributed to the pressure the defense placed on Hasselbeck. And, he was indeed beat badly late in the game. Hasselbeck threw to a wide open D. Williams that resulted in a touchdown. Lewis was covering Williams at the time. Instead of staying locked on the receiver, Lewis turned back to the QB and lost Williams and was never able to catch up. Terrible coverage that ended up in 6 points. Were the Steelers not far ahead and in a close game… say with Baltimore… the end result of that play could have been pretty bad for the Steelers. Lewis needs much more grooming. Much much more.

    @stillnation58 – Farrior is a toss up. He played much better than he as in the past. But his penalty in the end zone extended a drive that could have resulted in 6 points for the Titans. Although, I would take 13 tackles and one penalty over what he’s been doing any day.

  • craig.gottschalk
  • craig.gottschalk
  • craig.gottschalk

    Link to Lewis’ coverage here: Scroll down to ‘Hasselbeck finds Williams’

    http://www.nfl.com/gamecenter/2011100900/2011/REG5/titans@steelers#menu=highlights&tab=analyze

  • craig.gottschalk

    Link to Lewis’ coverage here: Scroll down to ‘Hasselbeck finds Williams’

    http://www.nfl.com/gamecenter/2011100900/2011/REG5/titans@steelers#menu=highlights&tab=analyze

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  • CoverCorner

    @craig I love this post. It wasn’t just about this game, but the last 4 games. That late TD pass wasn’t on Lewis, Mundy was late getting over the top. When you have help over the top, you should play underneath to protect against the back shoulder throw. That play aside, Lewis’ coverage has been great all year, which is why you don’t see QBs throwing at him much, even less than they throw at Ike. Normally the new number in the secondary gets tested automatically, Coordinators and QBs game plan to attack them. In Lewis’ case, they look over there but choose not to throw it. I wonder why?

    I think he’s developing right on schedule, especially after spending his first year on IR, and his second with a secondary coach that didn’t give a damn about developing the young guys.

    CB is one of the toughest positions to transition into from college. The player has to be patient, and the coaches and fans as well. I like the steady improvement, his willingness to learn and be coached. I’m on the Keenan Lewis bandwagon, just ordered my #23 jersey.

  • CoverCorner

    @craig I love this post. It wasn’t just about this game, but the last 4 games. That late TD pass wasn’t on Lewis, Mundy was late getting over the top. When you have help over the top, you should play underneath to protect against the back shoulder throw. That play aside, Lewis’ coverage has been great all year, which is why you don’t see QBs throwing at him much, even less than they throw at Ike. Normally the new number in the secondary gets tested automatically, Coordinators and QBs game plan to attack them. In Lewis’ case, they look over there but choose not to throw it. I wonder why?

    I think he’s developing right on schedule, especially after spending his first year on IR, and his second with a secondary coach that didn’t give a damn about developing the young guys.

    CB is one of the toughest positions to transition into from college. The player has to be patient, and the coaches and fans as well. I like the steady improvement, his willingness to learn and be coached. I’m on the Keenan Lewis bandwagon, just ordered my #23 jersey.

  • RickHarmon

    Ive been waiting for someone to notice the same thing ive seen in Lewis..i said after week2 that he woud be the starter by seasons end..if not then certainly by next season if he remains healthy.

  • RickHarmon

    Ive been waiting for someone to notice the same thing ive seen in Lewis..i said after week2 that he woud be the starter by seasons end..if not then certainly by next season if he remains healthy.

  • RickHarmon

    1st game Farrior showd up all year…ive seen him miss 13 tackles this season..The front 3 playd a great game allowing the linbackers to finally play like were use to seeing Steelers linebackers playin..Hoke..Hood,and Keisel may be the way to go..As far as Lewis getting beat lookin back? It happens to the best of them,give this kid time and game time reps thats something he can work on

  • RickHarmon

    1st game Farrior showd up all year…ive seen him miss 13 tackles this season..The front 3 playd a great game allowing the linbackers to finally play like were use to seeing Steelers linebackers playin..Hoke..Hood,and Keisel may be the way to go..As far as Lewis getting beat lookin back? It happens to the best of them,give this kid time and game time reps thats something he can work on

  • JamesE.Ellis

    I am with you on Keenan. third year in the league from Oregon State he should now how to cover like he is doing. Suggest he forgot about rival with Oregon and spend some more time with Dixon, maybe they can help each other out a bit. Go Steelers

  • JamesE.Ellis

    I am with you on Keenan. third year in the league from Oregon State he should now how to cover like he is doing. Suggest he forgot about rival with Oregon and spend some more time with Dixon, maybe they can help each other out a bit. Go Steelers

  • EyeInTheSky

    I’ve been noticing how little Lewis has been targeted when he’s in there, especially considering how well Ike has been playing on the other side. That’s odd, you’d think as the least experienced of the 5 DBs he’d get picked on heavily every week. He must be doing something right.

    Being able to man up and lock down a teams 1 AND 2 receivers can lead to a helluva pass defense.

  • EyeInTheSky

    I’ve been noticing how little Lewis has been targeted when he’s in there, especially considering how well Ike has been playing on the other side. That’s odd, you’d think as the least experienced of the 5 DBs he’d get picked on heavily every week. He must be doing something right.

    Being able to man up and lock down a teams 1 AND 2 receivers can lead to a helluva pass defense.

  • RickHarmon

    Better then William Gay..but hell even he’s been holdin his own lately..ITS A MIRICLE !!

  • RickHarmon

    Better then William Gay..but hell even he’s been holdin his own lately..ITS A MIRICLE !!

  • CoverCorner

    Think we need to look at these guys differently under proper coaching. Maybe Gay’s issues in the past were in fact fixable. WRs and RBs have a much easier time making that early impact with splash plays and highlights. CBs take a little more nurturing and development, more like QBs. Gay is 4yr, Lewis 3yr, Mundy, 2yr, Brown/Allen 1yr, and Lake as only had a couple months to work with them. This can be a very deep secondary as well. Tomlin and LeBeau, both ex-corners, had no problem drafting the right guys, getting the right guy to develop them was the issue. Lake seems to be that guy.

  • CoverCorner

    Think we need to look at these guys differently under proper coaching. Maybe Gay’s issues in the past were in fact fixable. WRs and RBs have a much easier time making that early impact with splash plays and highlights. CBs take a little more nurturing and development, more like QBs. Gay is 4yr, Lewis 3yr, Mundy, 2yr, Brown/Allen 1yr, and Lake as only had a couple months to work with them. This can be a very deep secondary as well. Tomlin and LeBeau, both ex-corners, had no problem drafting the right guys, getting the right guy to develop them was the issue. Lake seems to be that guy.

  • RickHarmon

    Very good point..hope thats the case

  • RickHarmon

    Very good point..hope thats the case