The Pittsburgh Steelers are at an interesting place in the secondary right now, particularly at the cornerback position, when you consider that the player who was supposed to start on the left side, as well as the player who ended up starting, are both gone. In is a rookie first-rounder who is probably not going to be ready to start right away.
When you have Ross Cockrell, the Bills cast-off who came in last year and ended up playing a big role on defense for large portions of the season, having logged around 60 percent of the team’s defensive snaps last year.
Not surprisingly, he has largely by default been running as the team’s primary starting cornerback on the left side through most of the offseason, and that has continued into the training camp, but Cockrell is not taking that position for granted, telling the folks at Steelers Nation Radio recently, “I’m not really sure where I am on the depth chart right now. I’m just going out there to work”.
Among the very few cornerbacks near the top of the depth chart to actually have some height to him, Cockrell has largely been viewed as an outside corner, and that is where he played all his snaps last year, even though he did not play in the 3-4 front. But he was willing to do anything when he arrived.
“When I came in last year, I told [the coaching staff] I’m willing to do whatever it takes, whether it’s playing on the outside or it’s playing on the inside. I even joked around some last year and said I would play offense if they needed me to”.
Still, he seems to recognize what suits him best, which is to play on the outside, talking about the fact that some of the other cornerbacks in the room might be better suited to moving around. “This is really a good group of guys”, he said. “You’ve got guys like Sean [Davis], guys like Artie [Burns], Senquez [Golson], guys who can bounce around on the inside and outside and play safety as well, so I’m looking to see what they’re going to do in this camp.”
While Cockrell is regarded as a quick study when it comes to getting a grasp on the game and the playbook, which explains why he was able to contribute after being on the team for such a short amount of time, he also believes having Carnell Lake and his playing experience and versatility has been an asset to him and the rest of the secondary.
“It’s great for us [to have him] because we have an All-Pro player as a coach, an All-Decade member, so he really gives us the insight of the game”, he told SNR. “Not just the Xs and Os, but what it takes to make plays on the field, what it takes to make those interceptions, what it takes to cause those forced fumbles. I think it’s an added perspective that we really appreciate having”.