By Matthew Marczi
Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Cortez Allen is scheduled to miss his second consecutive game after playing just the first half of the season opener. He injured his ankle during the waning minutes of the first half against the Tennessee Titans and was unable to return in the second half after testing it out at halftime.
Allen’s transition from situational player to starter has not been a smooth one so far, certainly not to the Steelers’ liking. He is unfortunately building a reputation based upon his injury history since he has been in the league despite missing just three games in his first two seasons including the playoffs.
As a rookie, Allen missed the majority of his first training camp due to a pulled hamstring. He missed the first three preseason games, but was able to make enough of an impact in the final preseason game to justify his roster spot heading into the regular season.
During that season, he suffered an ankle injury that caused him to miss one game, and then a shoulder injury that he endured during the regular season finale left him watching his team lose to Tim Tebow in the playoffs.
As a second-year player, Allen was in competition with Keenan Lewis to usurp the departed William Gay as the starting left outside cornerback, but was held off despite Lewis battling injuries of his own.
Allen, of course, suffered a hip flexor injury last season that caused him to miss a game in which he was expected to start in place of the injured Ike Taylor. As a result, Curtis Brown and Josh Victorian were beaten for touchdowns in a painful loss to the San Diego Chargers that helped keep the team out of the playoffs.
Once again, Allen battled yet another injury during training camp, this time a knee issue that resulted in a minor procedure that kept him on the sidelines much of the time, exacerbating the issues of an already-depleted secondary during the early portions of camp.
Now he is sidelined for a second consecutive week with an ankle injury, and there are really no clear indications at the moment as to whether or not the team expects him to be able to practice next week, meaning he could be out until after the Bye.
Were it not for the fact that he has been able to perform well when he gets playing time, Allen’s injury history in his young career would be more concerning. Given the amount of practice that he has missed over the years, and the fact that he went to a military college, it is surprising how effective he has been.
But are these repeated injuries having an impact on his growth and development as a player as he works his way up the depth chart year by year? And should there be concerns over not just his durability, but his ability to play at less than 100 percent? Perhaps it is too early to answer those questions, but he still has a thing or two to learn from Ike when it comes to staying on the field.