Nobody entered the 2020 season thinking that, at some point, Marcus Allen would be starting games—let alone starting games at linebacker. But it is 2020, and here we are. The 2018 fifth-round safety has played the majority of snaps at linebacker for the past two games due to a series of injuries at the position.
It started with Devin Bush going down with a torn ACL quite a while ago. Over time, Robert Spillane and Ulysees Gilbert III would also get injured, and then Vince Williams tested positive for Covid-19, putting him out for the past two games.
Since then, the team traded for Avery Williamson and they got Gilbert back, but Allen has been the primary starter next to Williamson the past two games. While new to the team, Williamson is the most experienced player at the position on the team, short of Williams, and yesterday he reflected upon the burden placed on Allen as a player new to the position.
“It’s definitely tough on him. I feel like they definitely knew that he was a guy that doesn’t have much experience at the inside linebacker position”, he said of opponents keying on him in recent weeks. “But Marcus has been playing pretty solid. I’ll give him credit. He’s a tough guy”.
“They hit us on some runs. That’s just a part of the game”, he acknowledged. “They’re professionals as well. We’ve just got to do better. I try to help out as much as possible to communicate on the field, to try to let him know what I think is coming, just to try to be prepared before the snap”.
They certainly did allow some runs against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night. In fact, they rushed for 152 yards in total, though it took them 41 rushing attempts to get there. 84 yards came from running back Giovani Bernard, and quarterback Ryan Finley picked up another 47. They also got 14 from Samaje Perine.
According to Pro Football Reference, Allen logged 56 snaps in the game, registering six total tackles, as well as a hit on the quarterback, in his second start. This is the second week in a row in which he has played over 50 snaps, which accounts for more than 50 percent of his career defensive snaps.
According to head coach Mike Tomlin, it sounds like Williams is nearing a return after his bout with Covid-19, which would send Allen back to sub-package roles and special teams duty. He has played in all 13 games this year after playing in just three games during his first two seasons.