Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Cortez Allen certainly isn’t off to a great start this season. Since he signed his new five-year deal worth in excess of $26 million just prior to the start of the regular season, the former fourth-round draft pick has allowed 11 catches for 126 yards along with an embarrassing touchdown to Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen last Sunday night.
To make matters worse, Allen has been penalized a total of four times for 48 yards and has failed to come up with an interception despite having a few good opportunities to do so.
During a Thursday morning interview on 93.7 The Fan, Allen was asked to evaluate his play so far this season.
“I’m extremely hard on myself as far as my performances,” said Allen. “As of yet, I still think there’s a lot of room for improvement. No matter how good I get, or how good think I get, I will always say that – room for improvement – because I feel like there’s always something to learn, always something I can get better at. For one, just capitalizing on my opportunities on the ball. I dropped a couple. Just continue to work on that.”
Following Thursday’s practice, Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau was asked to talk about Allen’s development.
“Like a lot of young corners it’s been up and down a little bit,” said LeBeau. “He’s got tremendous athletic skills and great ball skills, and sometimes he doesn’t let those ball skills come to play. And I think once he gets over that final hurdle that you’ll start seeing him.
“He’s been a productive interceptor and I know he can make those types of plays. Like a lot of our young players we’re just looking for him to continue to grow and become more and more productive as we go along.”
Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Allen will literally have a tall task as he, along with fellow starting cornerback William Gay, will be asked to cover wide receivers Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans, both of whom are every bit of six feet, four inches tall. Between the two they have 23 catches for 240 yards and a touchdown through three games played.
The Buccaneers will have second-year quarterback Mike Glennon under center Sunday and it will be his first start this season. As a rookie, Glennon was intercepted a total of nine times. Seven of those picks were targeted for Jackson, so that’s something to keep an eye on Sunday.
More than anything, Allen just needs to cut down on the penalties moving forward in addition to not giving up the big play. On top of that, he needs to support the run better when it comes to making a tackle. If he can do all of that, I think he has a good shot at turning his season around as we’ve definitely seen him play better during his short career.