Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Cortez Allen has gone from playing every snap on defense for the Steelers to logging some time on special teams.
After struggling heavily against the Cleveland Browns, he was demoted to playing in sub-packages the following week. Two weeks later, he had another disastrous showing, and he was benched entirely on defense.
Including the injured, that makes Allen the fifth cornerback on the depth chart, for the time being, in front of only B.W. Webb, a second-year player that the Steelers picked up off waivers just prior to the beginning of the season.
Pittsburgh began the season with Allen and Ike Taylor as their top two cornerbacks, playing every snap of the game on the outside. Taylor was lost to injury in the third game of the season with a broken forearm, while Allen’s plight has been chronicled above.
It’s conceivable, though still wholly speculative, that the Steelers might get Taylor back after their bye week, coming up after the next game. He has been practicing on a limited basis, but has yet to be cleared by doctors to resume full football activities.
Whether or not Allen sees another snap on defense this year is equally uncertain, even with the coaching staff consistently giving him public votes of confidence for his success in the long run.
It’s been talked about that he has two players in the locker room at his same position alone that he could talk to about what he’s going through. Both Taylor and William Gay have been demoted and benched at various points in their tenure with the team.
Taylor was famously benched during the 2006 season for five games, and he only returned for the season finale due to injury. Gay, meanwhile, was given the starting job due to a vacancy in 2009, but he struggled throughout that season, and was demoted in favor of veteran Deshea Townsend in the last two games of the season.
The following year, the Steelers brought back Bryant McFadden, the man he replaced, moving Gay back to sub-packages. He took over the starting job in 2011 after the first game with McFadden bogged down by injuries, but he moved inside in the nickel.
He has started 48 of 58 games played since the start of the 2011 season, and Taylor has started every game from 2007 on in which he has played. That’s plenty of first-hand experience with which to consult, but the only way to know if he can be trusted to do the job again is to get him back on the field.
Not for a big chunk of time, of course, at least not right away. And the next game might even be a good opportunity to get him some playing time if Steve McLendon sits out with an injury.
When McLendon is out, the Steelers play in the nickel with greater frequency.
Perhaps Allen could log a few snaps in sub-packages either in place of Antwon Blake outside or Brice McCain in the slot. It might do him some good in the long run just to see some playing time, though that doesn’t seem likely to happen.