Although there has been no “official” word that Cortez Allen will start tomorrow versus the Minnesota Vikings, he is listed as “probable” according to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ most recent injury report.
The starting cornerback has participated fully in the team’s last three practices, and his return to the field could prove to be a tremendous help to Pittsburgh’s secondary from a strategic standpoint. William Gay can settle into his role as the nickelback with Allen back in the lineup, and Shamarko Thomas can be relieved of his slot coverage duties in sub-packages as well.
Besides providing Pittsburgh with more depth in their secondary, Allen also has the potential to provide his defense with something they have lacked through the first three games this season: turnovers.
Remember readers, Allen was a “takeaway machine” down the stretch in a secondary which had trouble forcing them all year. The stone-handed Ike Taylor only picked off one pass in 2012, while Keenan Lewis did not record a single interception in his only year as a starter with the team! Combined, Taylor and Lewis only recorded a total of two takeaways (Lewis forced one fumble) throughout the entire season.
Unlike the starters at cornerback, Allen was responsible for a total of six takeaways during Pittsburgh’s last two regular season games. That number is even more impressive when one considers that Pittsburgh’s entire defense only collected a total of 20 during the 2012 campaign!
The then-second year cornerback recorded two interceptions and a forced fumble versus the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 16, and then followed that performance up with two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery against the Cleveland Browns in the season finale.
Allen displayed a “nose” for the football last fall, and that knack is exactly what the Steelers’ defense needs at the moment. Throughout his career, Matt Cassel has illustrated that he can be a mistake-prone quarterback. Thus, it will be up to Allen, Taylor, Troy Polamalu, and others to take advantage of the signal-caller during his first regular start of the 2013 campaign.
Going “oh-fer” in Sunday’s game in the takeaways department will be a sure-fire way for this team to head back “across the pond” with an 0-4 record. I just hope that Allen’s presence in the lineup might help the Steelers’ defense solve their turnover woes.
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