Due to injuries, Pittsburgh Steelers rookie cornerback Brian Allen was given a chance again to dress and to contribute on special teams. This time, he got to play extensively, serving regularly as both gunner and jammer on the punt coverage and return units, respectively.
The Steelers’ first punt of the game came early in the second quarter, with Allen lined up as the left gunner opposite Darrius Heyward-Bey. He didn’t have much issue getting the jammer spinning around, though Heyward-Bey ended up being the one to officially ‘down’ the ball.
With the Packers soon punting later, the Steelers broke out a long return from Antonio Brown, only to see it negated by what called a hold on Allen. I personally was disappointed with the call, and find that there is a fine line between a hold and a solid takedown. Fitzgerald Toussaint was also penalized on the same play, however, rendering the point moot.
On a subsequent rep as jammer, he showed persistence, and was ultimately able to reroute the gunner at the last second, providing Brown with a sliver of daylight to improve the Steelers’ field position, adding seven yards from the initial spot of the 16-yard line.
Allen’s game legitimately has some nuance to it. You can see how he is able to manipulate the jammer on this rep, never letting him know which way he will break.
There was some pre-snap confusion here as the Packers slid their right wing into the slot, prompting a lot of commotion. Still, while he stuck with the gunner all the way down the field, he was ultimately able to cut inside of Allen as the angle of pursuit grew tight.
He handled the corner better on his next opportunity, which only came about a minute and 15 seconds later. Watch him this time stick to the gunner’s pivot point to remain in position.
The Packers didn’t even directly cover Allen on this one, but he still gets the credit—from me that is, since nobody tracks it—for the fair catch inducement.
He had a harder go of it on the final punt of the night, the gunner quickly getting behind him. With the punt coming right down his lane, there wasn’t much he could do at that point. But Brown tried to return it anyway.
While I don’t know what his future is in terms of becoming a contributor on defense, he looks to have potential as a special teams asset.