While Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday that he still has confidence in cornerback Cortez Allen after benching him late in the Sunday game against the Indianapolis Colts, it appears as though the struggling defensive back has lost his spot in the nickel sub package for the upcoming game Sunday night against the Baltimore Ravens.
Antown Blake, who replaced Allen late in the game Sunday and recorded an interception, indicated Wednesday that as of right now, he expects to be the third cornerback Sunday night against the Ravens.
“From the looks of things right now that’s how it is going to be,” Blake said Wednesday, according to an afternoon report by Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “Things change during the week so we see how it goes.”
Allen’s struggles have gone on now for most of the season and while Blake is extremely undersized, he deserves a shot to show that he can match up against Ravens wide receivers Steve Smith and Torrey Smith in the Steelers nickel defense while Allen tries to fight to get his job back.
Regardless of who winds up being the third cornerback Sunday night, Brice McCain and William Gay will start in the Steelers base defense. When the Steelers roll out their third cornerback, McCain will move inside to the slot.
Tomlin also said Tuesday that he hopes injured veteran cornerback Ike Taylor can help Allen bounce back being as he went through a similar situation during the 2006 season.
“I talk often with Ike about Cortez’s situation because (Taylor) has lived it,” Tomlin said during his Tuesday press conference.
On Wednesday, Taylor was asked to talk about how he was able to bounce back when he was benched several years ago for poor play.
“You gotta be ticked off about that,” Taylor said, according to steelers.com. “but at the same time you have to re-prove yourself.
“I figured I wasn’t playing well enough to start, the coaches gotta to do what they gotta do. It was hard checking the Randy Mosses, the Marvin Harrisons, all those guys. Some games weren’t going to be good games for me and I understood that. My team rallied around me, the guys rallied around me, and I bounced back. But I have a fighter’s mentality.”
We’ll see over the course of the next few weeks if Allen can develop the kind of fighter mentality that Taylor talked about Wednesday, but in the meantime it looks like he also better sharpen up his special teams mentality.