2020 South Side Questions: Will Marcus Allen See ILB Snaps Sunday?

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: Will Marcus Allen have to play a traditional linebacker role for the Steelers on Sunday against the Buffalo Bills?

With Robert Spillane presumed sidelined for Sunday’s game due to a knee injury and there being a very good chance that Vince Williams is unavailable as well after being placed on the Reserve/Covid-19 List (it’s a virtual certainty, frankly), the Steelers are left with just one traditional linebacker currently healthy and on the 53-man roster in Avery Williamson, who was acquired only several weeks ago.

While the Bills are, like most teams, an offense that runs primarily out of a three-receiver set, meaning that Pittsburgh should be able to spend a healthy amount of time in dime and big nickel defenses that only feature one inside linebacker, there will likely be times that they need two, in some form or fashion.

The Steelers all season have stuck with the idea that Marcus Allen is a linebacker. This game will likely test their resolve. If Williams isn’t cleared in time, or if Ulysees Gilbert III doesn’t return from the Reserve/Injured List (I wouldn’t bet on this), the only other alternative is to play a linebacker form the practice squad.

There are two, and both of them have preseason experience with the team in 2019, those being Tegray Scales and Christian Kuntz. Both of them also played in the XFL earlier this year, so they have some in-game professional experience in 2020. But would either of them see the field as a traditional linebacker ahead of Allen?

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