Could The Writing Be On The Wall Regarding Marcus Allen’s Future In Pittsburgh?

With the first training camp practice in the books for the Pittsburgh Steelers, many fans and media members alike will try and spin certain narratives to make conclusions on what the final roster/depth chart may look like for Week 1 based on the team’s first action of the 2022 season while participating without pads on. Reports about Mitch Trubisky having a “sizeable lead” on Kenny Pickett may come off as if the rookie doesn’t have a chance to win the starting job, when in actuality the QB competition is still alive and well, and likely will remain open until the end of the final preseason game.

While going through Alex Kozora’s extremely thorough training camp diary report from the first practice in Latrobe at Saint Vincent College, one seemingly minor note stuck out to me and was reiterated by both Alex and Dave Bryan on the training camp recap episode of The Terrible Podcast:

Quick special teams session notes. Tre Norwood ran first-team upback, a job held by Marcus Allen last year. Instead, Allen worked as a wing. Jaylen Warren backup upback. Mataeo Durant also saw time as the right wing.

The big piece of news to take from this tidbit of information is Tre Norwood’s involvement as the first team upback. So often Dave and Alex have pointed to Marcus Allen’s roster spot hinging on his special teams value to ST Coordinator Danny Smith, specifically as the team’s upback. It should be noted that this is just one practice, and if Allen is back as the team’s starting upback this week, this speculation could be all for naught. Still, should Danny Smith and the Steelers be grooming Norwood or UDFA Jaylen Warren for that crucial special teams spot, Allen could be seen as expendable.

It’s not that Marcus Allen is a complete zero as a defender, being a LB/S hybrid that primarily plays in the box. However, given the fact that he is only signed through 2022 and has the likes of Buddy Johnson, Ulysees Gilbert III, and rookie Mark Robinson all competing with him for the fourth/fifth ILB spot on the depth chart, it’s plausible that Pittsburgh could be on the outside looking in than vice versa.

Remember, there is plenty of training camp and preseason action yet to occur, so things will change fluidly. However, I will be keeping a close eye on Kozora’s practice reports to see if this trend continues at the upback spot on special teams and monitor Allen’s involvement in team defense sessions, and I encourage you to do the same.

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