2020 South Side Questions: How Much Will Marcus Allen Play With Vince Williams Back?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the regular season, following the most unique offseason in the NFL since at least World War II. While it didn’t involve a player lockout, teams still did not have physical access to their players, though they were at least able to meet with them virtually.

Even training camp looked much different from the norm, and a big part of that was the fact that there will be no games along the way to prepare for. Their first football game of the year was to be the opener against the New York Giants.

As the season progresses, however, there will be a number of questions that arise on a daily basis, and we will do our best to try to raise attention to them as they come along, in an effort to both point them out and to create discussion

Questions like, how will the players who are in new positions this year going to perform? Will the rookies be able to contribute significantly? How will Ben Roethlisberger look—and the other quarterbacks as well? Now, we even have questions about whether or not players will be in quarantine.

These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.

Question: How much will Marcus Allen play now that Vince Williams is back?

The vast majority of the total amount of playing time that Marcus Allen has had in his playing career, defensively, just came over the span of the past two games, during which he started at inside linebacker in place of Vince Williams, who was sidelined during that period of time while battling Covid-19. The 2018 former fifth-round pick logged over 100 defensive snaps in that time.

Logging snaps and playing at a high level are not tied at the hip, however, and it stands to reason that the Steelers will benefit, perhaps to a significant degree, with Williams’ return. One can hope that Robert Spillane will be back in a game or two as well.

However, Allen was still playing even before the injuries at linebacker. During dime sub-packages, at least at certain points of the season, he would come on the field in place of both Williams and Spillane as the dime linebacker, and he logged over 20 snaps in one game in that role.

So even with the inside linebacker position trending toward health, there is still, theoretically, a role for Allen in the defense beyond depth. The question is how much playing time he will actually see. He only has three other games of double-digit snaps this season outside of the last two. Ulysees Gilbert III being back could eat into his playing time as well.

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