With starting Pittsburgh Steelers safeties Troy Polamalu (concussed birth certificate) and Mike Mitchell (groin) both sidelined Sunday during practice, cornerback William Gay actually got to take a few reps with the first-team safeties in their absence.
This is not the first time such an event has happened as defensive backs coach Carnell Lake has been good about trying to cross position train Gay ever since he was hired to the coaching staff.
“In the past William has played some safety,” Lake said of Gay following the 2013 NFL Draft . “He’s rotated back there based on some concepts that we were working. My first year with him and even in years past when he was here, he could play safety. I’m not counting on him being a down in and down out safety. He’s not built for a safety position, but he can do it.
“Will was a really productive corner for me when I had him here. He started for me both outside on first and second down and on third down as a nickel. He knows the defense in and out and that’s why I’m really glad we have him back. He can also tutor the younger guys coming up. We can plug and play Will just about anywhere on the field and he can be productive for us.”
We don’t talk about Gay receiving practice snaps at safety very much as it probably very rarely happens. With it happening this year in training camp, however, and with so many other healthy safeties currently on the roster, it makes you wonder about the 2014 status of veteran Will Allen.
Allen, who head coach Mike Tomlin likes to refer to as a “extremely low-maintenance guy”, has been spotted taking quite a few second-team reps at both safety spots thus far in training camp. That would lead you to believe that his roster spot this year is a virtual lock, but I’m starting to wonder if that’s really the case.
Over the next few weeks, young safeties Shamarko Thomas, Robert Golden and Jordan Dangerfield will all get an opportunity to show how they’ve progressed during the preseason and if at least two of the three play well, it could make Allen very much expendable. And especially if the team believes Gay can play one of the positions in an emergency situation.
Think about this. If Allen were to be released just prior to the start of the regular season, there’s a good chance he would remain unemployed for quite a while. Should injuries strike the Steelers safety position, he would be a quick phone call away from being right back on the roster.