I will admit that I was a bit confused when the Pittsburgh Steelers signed Will Allen after he was released by the Dallas Cowboys last month.
As far as depth at safety was concerned, I assumed that Shamarko Thomas and Robert Golden would provide adequate enough depth for Pittsburgh when they went to their dime and quarter packages for the rest of this season. I for one saw no need for a fifth safety on the roster when other positional units, like offensive line, needed more help from a personnel perspective.
To their credit though, Pittsburgh hedged their bets on the veteran Allen for insurance purposes and it looks like it has paid off in a stop-gap sense.
Not only has he played a key role on their special teams units though during his first five games with the team, he is going to play a large role in Pittsburgh’s sub-packages on the defensive side of the ball now that Thomas is nursing his ankle injury according to Scott Brown of ESPN.com.
With Thomas sidelined, the veteran could see some extensive work on the defensive side of the ball on Sunday afternoon against the Detroit Lions.
Thankfully for Pittsburgh, the 31 year-old has three-plus years of experience under his belt when as a member of Dick LeBeau’s defense. In addition, Allen started seven games for Pittsburgh last season in place of Troy Polamalu and logged 31 tackles, three passes defensed, and one forced fumble.
The Lions have the league’s third-ranked passing attack (yards per game), possess one of the best receivers of this entire era with Calvin Johnson, some complimentary weapons like Brandon Pettigrew, Joseph Fauria and Reggie Bush who can do damage as well, and a strong-armed signal-caller who is more than willing to let it rip through the air (727 passing attempts in 2012) in the form of Matt Stafford.
Success with their quarter package will be key for the Steelers’ defense this weekend when Detroit tries to spread the field, so a strong performance by Allen in Thomas’ place will definitely help Pittsburgh as they try to inch closer to a .500 record this weekend.
Like “NPC” on Facebook: Nice Pick, Cowher