The journey toward the 2017 season is now in full swing with the Pittsburgh Steelers having reported to Latrobe for their annual training camp at Saint Vincent College, where they have held their camps for over half a century now.
This is surely the time more than any other in which we find ourselves full of questions that we are looking to get answered, and this also tends to be the best time to get answers to those questions that have been building up over the course of time since the 2016 season ended.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the training camp and the preseason as they develop, and beyond, looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they try to navigate their way back to the Super Bowl, after reaching the AFC Championship game last season for the first time in more than half a decade.
Question: What does Brian Allen need to show in order to make the 53-man roster?
When the Steelers used a fifth-round draft pick on cornerback Brian Allen, they knew exactly what they were going to get: a big, tall player with solid speed and hands, but who had barely begun to scratch the surface in terms of understanding the position, having been a convert from the offensive side of the ball.
It’s been a years-long process for the rookie to become a viable prospect at defensive back, but he showed enough during his senior season at Utah to get the Steelers to take a chance on him in the fifth round. But with a cornerback group that is deeper than it has often been in the past, many have been wondering just what he needs to show the team in order to stick on the 53-man roster.
The truth is that nobody actually knows just what exactly the coaching staff might be thinking. Are they leaning strongly toward keeping him on the roster, even potentially at the expense of weakening the team for the 2017 season by letting a player go who could contribute more this year?
Since there are things that we don’t know, and can’t know, then, they need to be discarded in the reasoning. So let’s assume the Steelers are not considering Allen a virtual lock to make the roster no matter how much he struggles: what do they need to see from him to carry him on the roster?
According to our camp reports, the rookie has been showing growth since the start of training camp. At the beginning, it was hardly imaginable that he would make the team because he was simply struggling so much in coverage.
But he has made strides in working against the run, and saw a big turning point staying in-phase against a deep pass during the preseason opener. That has fed into a solid first practice back in Latrobe, which included an intercepted pass.
But he has been spending most of his time working against competition like Bart Houston and Marcus Tucker. And he needs to be a contributor on special teams, which he did a bit in the preseason game, though no plays stick out. So from this point forward, where must he go to arrive at his intended destination?