I’m a fan who loves defense. And when I say defense I mean sacks and turnovers. I love seeing a run stuffed at the line of scrimmage by the wall that was Casey Hampton, Brett Keisel and Aaron Smith or LaMarr Woodley break free on the outside and head straight towards the quarterback. I can’t get enough of Ryan Clark lighting up receivers that dare cross the middle of the field and Polamalu flying around to wherever the ball might be. Last season however, the Steelers ranked at the top for a different style of defense. While they had low sacks and turnovers than in recent years, they made up for it in defense against the passing game. With the departures of Willie Gay and Bryant McFadden at CB opposite Ike Taylor, the open spot has created a three man battle at camp for the starting job. Between Cortez Allen, Keenan Lewis, and Curtis Brown, who is making their way to starting opposite Taylor in Denver on September 9th?
Ike Taylor describes this year’s training camp as the most intense of his career. Possibly due to him having a front row view of the battle to play opposite of him in the secondary, or because he’s been fighting and making up with Antonio Brown so much. I have a tendency to think that it has to do with the culture change that has clearly taken place since former Steeler great Carnell Lake took over last year as Secondary Coach. Ike performed the majority of last season as a shut-down corner. Unfortunately the season ended last year in tragically ironic fashion as Taylor was beat by Demaryius Thomas of the Broncos for that 80 yard pass from Tebow but there’s no doubt that Taylor is going to play this season with the intent to right that wrong.
With camp wrapping up this afternoon position battles are far from being won, there are still 3 preseason games to be played and many more cuts to be made before the final 53 man roster is set. As it stands now Keenan Lewis looks to be the front runner for the CB position, as he saw the most playing time out of the three last season. Keenan started OTA’s and minicamp with a bold prediction of being the first Steelers CB to be named to the Pro Bowl in over a decade. While I think if there’s a Steelers CB headed to the Pro Bowl soon it will be Taylor before Lewis, I do agree that Lewis has given himself the best chance to be alongside Taylor. Depth at the CB position isn’t something Steeler fans are used to seeing. I don’t see Allen or Brown being roster casualties if they don’t make that spot.
There are many questions from this defense to be answered this season. Can the Steelers keep up the pass defense while getting back to pressuring the quarterback and creating turnovers? This Sunday Andrew Luck is going to want to follow his breakout first preseason game with some deep passes against the Steelers. I’d love nothing more than to see Ike and Keenan covering the Colts receivers like blankets to give Woodley enough time to break free and properly welcome Mr. Luck to the NFL. What are your thoughts Steeler Nation? How do you see the Steelers secondary shaping up?
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