Originally written on Bleed Black & Gold  |  Last updated 11/19/14

The Steelers have 2 open Cornerback positions at the moment.  They need a starting CB across from Ike Taylor and they need a nickel cornerback.  This could be a very heated battle this year.  There are three young up and coming players who have shown promise and will fight it out for these spots.

This will be a big year for the Steelers.  They went from William Gay and Bryant McFadden who are guys that have started in this league to guys who have rarely seen the field.  Keenan Lewis has absorbed the most playing time but still is an untested youngster.  Cortez Allen played off and on before his injury and Curtis Brown while a special teams demon did not play defense this past season.  These guys will be tested this year and we will see if the Steelers are ready for the future or if the team will need to look at the secondary heading into next offseason.

All three of these guys will have a role on this team.  There are 3 of them and there is a starter, nickel and dime position to be had.  So who becomes the starter and who becomes the nickelback?

Lets start with Keenan Lewis.  Lewis was the nickelback last season.  He got on the field every game and had one start.  Lewis picked off one pass against Kansas City.  He did not do a bad job when on the field.  He was consistent in what he did.  Lewis played Steelers football.  He did not really get burned but did have the receiver catch the ball in front of him and make the tackle.  He made the play but not the splash play. 

Lewis should be the front runner and the expected starter.  He has the most experience and has already played in this defense.  If it were up to Ike Taylor Lewis would be the starter.  Taylor is expecting big things from Lewis saying “the expectations for him around here are sky high.” 

He should be counted on as the guy who hits the field and takes charge of the position.  Lewis had that oppurtunity last season though and did not take advantage.  Taylor went down in the first preseason game with a broken thumb and Lewis had free reign to make plays and take the starting spot away from William Gay.  He did not take advantage of his chance and that worries me for how much better did he really get this offseason.

Next is Curtis Brown.  Brown was a special teams monster last season.  He did not see the field as a defensive back though.  Brown while with a lack of experience is the best suited to play the corner position the way the Steelers play defense.  He is a solid zone corner that likes to tackle.  He fits the scheme very well.  

Brown will have to do a lot of work to crack the lineup this season though.  Without touching the field last year and only being in his second season he has an uphill battle.  Dick Lebeau does not like young guys.  He likes players to wait three years to play in his system.  Brown will need a monster preseason to make the starting lineup.

Lastly is Cortez Allen.  Allen played off and on last season.  He was given duties to take away Rob Gronkowski against the Patriots.  He did well that day.  The then saw more action up until he was injured late in the season.  Allen has high potential in the NFL.  After watching him last season though I still think he should be the replacement for Ryan Clark at Free Safety in the future.  Allen showed that ability while taking on Gronkowski and he has the ability to work at the position and learn under Clark.   

When all is said and done at the end of the day this is Keenan Lewis’ job to lose.  He will head out with the first team in the preseason and be able to show what he has first.  The real battle will be between Allen and Brown to see who takes over the nickel cornerback postion.  My heart is on Brown but my money is on Allen.  Rookies to not often see the field on defense.  Allen was trusted to cover the best tight end in football.  He has the advantage.


Keenan Lewis

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