2012 Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp Roster Battles: Cornerbacks

The Pittsburgh Steelers open training camp in Latrobe in just over a month from now. With the OTA sessions and mini camp behind us, we can now start to focus on the battles for roster spots for certain positions.

First up in our series is the cornerback position. The Steelers have opened the last two seasons with 6 cornerbacks on the 53 man roster and that could indeed be the case once again this year. Gone from last year are William Gay and Bryant McFadden. The four locks at this time to make the 53 man roster are obvious in Ike Taylor, Keenan Lewis, Curtis Brown and Cortez Allen. With that being noted, there figures to be at least one if not two roster spots available on the 53 at the cornerback position.

Currently there are four cornerbacks on the Steelers 90 man roster that could compete for those two spots in Terrence Frederick, Terry Carter, Andre Freeman and Walter McFadden. Let\’s have a look at each

Terrence Frederick – Frederick was drafted by the Steelers in the 7th round this past April out of Texas A&M where he started 45 of 50 career games. He finished his college career with 205 tackles and 6 sacks. He is a little undersized at 5096, and although he played both inside and outside in college, many scouts believe that he is best suited as a nickel back in a 3-4 defense. Frederick was credited with 30 pass break-ups and 4 interceptions in his 50 games at A&M and he also forced 2 fumbles. Despite being regarded as undersized and slow of foot by scouts, General Manager Kevin Colbert termed him quicker than fast following his selection. Frederick makes up for both of those perceived negatives with his ability to quickly diagnose plays and his understanding of good angles. He is a very willing tackler, but very inconsistent in every facet of his game, much like all late round corners. His tackling technique is inconsistent at times, but that can be improved as he seems willing to hit. His main weakness that showed up on film was when he was asked to press or play man coverage. He can close quickly when playing in zone and is usually always around the ball. He figures to only make the 53 man roster if he shows some upside in training camp and ability to play on special teams. Since being drafted, we have not heard the name of Frederick much during all of the OTA sessions and the mini camp. Just because he was drafted in no way makes him a lock for the 53 man roster, but he figures to have the inside track.

Terry Carter – Carter was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Louisiana Tech and measures in at 5102. During his college career, Carter recorded 152 total tackles, 61 of which came in his final season. He also was responsible for 18 career pass break-ups, 3 interceptions and 2 forced fumbles in the 47 games he played in. From the limited tape I have watched of Carter, he mostly lined up on the outside left. He can play both man and off, but seems better suited for off coverage in a zone type defense such as the Steelers play. He does not flip his hips very fluidly and tends to turn and run too soon at times. He does seem to close well when the play is in front of him though, but is not really good at fighting off blockers, especially tight ends. His tackle numbers suggest he his willing to hit, but I did not see enough film on him to judge that ability. The good thing about Carter is that we did here is name mentioned a few times by the media during the recent mini camp as he reportedly made a few nice interceptions. Much like Frederick, he will have to show his ability to perhaps play both inside and outside in camp and he must excel in special teams to secure a roster spot.

Walter McFadden – McFadden was signed to the roster just after the 2011 season ended. He was originally drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the fifth round of the 2010 NFL Draft, but only saw action in four games his rookie season. McFadden saw his most playing time against the Miami Dolphins in week 12 of the 2010 season at right cornerback and he did not fare well. He was thrown at 6 times and allowed 5 receptions for 134 yards and a touchdown. The Raiders released the former Auburn product prior to the start of the 2011 season and he eventually landed on the practice squad of the Jacksonville Jaguars in mid October. His stay with the Jaguars did not last long, but following his release he was signed to the Cincinnati Bengals practice squad for one week. McFadden measures in at 5100 and is likely best suited to play inside. He is a real longshot to make the Steelers 53.

Andre Freeman – Freeman was a late arrival as he was signed to roster as an undrafted free agent in May after playing at nearby Slippery Rock. The 5105 cornerback played outside in college and recorded 23 tackles, 1 interception and 2 pass break-ups in 7 games last season. Freeman has been working extensively with Taylor since being signed, and could be a dark horse candidate for a roster spot with a strong training camp. He flashed early in OTA sessions according to a few media reports, but that is the extent of what we have heard about him since his signing. His reps will likely be limited, so he must take advantage of every snap he gets and he must outshine the other roster hopeful cornerbacks on special teams. Freeman did have two punt blocks in one game against Lock Haven in 2009.

In summation, one roster spot is certainly open for one of the four players listed above with the possibility of two making it depending on how the numbers shake out. At this time I would say that McFadden has the longest shot of the four of making the roster. We should get a much better idea on the other three when camp opens as to what order they are getting reps respectively. Special teams is everything to these young cornerbacks, so pay close attention to each when the preseason games get started.

Previous Training Camp Roster Battle Post
2012 Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp Roster Battles: Defensive Ends
2012 Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp Roster Battles: Wide Receivers
2012 Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp Roster Battles: Tight Ends
2012 Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp Roster Battles: Kickers
2012 Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp Roster Battles: Safeties
2012 Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp Roster Battles: Running Backs
2012 Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp Roster Battles: Nose Tackles

  • The secondary is improving from past years. Key is still health of Troy. Good to see more depth at corner since NFL has become pass happy. In playoffs Denver exposed weakness of Steelers. Should be fixed this year

  • SteelerDave

    Taylor, Lewis, Brown and Allen are a group of four I am very comfortable with but in my opinion behind them is a bunch of guys who would be a weakness if they had to play. We have four very solid corners but past that we are severely lacking. Any serious injury and we would be really hurting.

  • JohnnyV1

    It doesn’t appear any of them are solid enough for a roster spot, let alone two roster spots.. I’m not even sure if Lewis, Brown and Allen can fill the starters (LCB starter, slot CB, nickel/dime back) roles. Not saying that all three of those guys won’t be capable come opening day, but if one of those doesn’t come through, the four named above don’t appear to be the answer.This is my biggest concern as we approach 2012 season.

  • Beerman9

    I agree that past the top 4 is a concern, but not much of one to me. This could be the strongest top 4 (on paper) that I remember. I’ll also go out on a limb and say I don’t remember too many defensive formations where more than 3 CB’s and 2 safeties are used – So that leaves one guy as a solid plan B injury replacement. Lastly, I dont think many other teams have much beyond top 4 at CB either – but could be wrong. Plus, this could be one area where a veteran is picked up as a 5th after some pre-season cuts.

  • burghball

    Re Terry Carter – There was a lot of buzz on this kid coming out of the OTA’s and mini camp – A long shot to keep an eye on.

  • Pete

    You never know how it’s going to go. This is Keenan Lewis’ last kick at the can and I really hope he grabs the bull by the horns and nails down a starting spot. With Gay gone and having played very well last season, it will be interesting to see if we have a player in one of Lewis, Brown or Allen to start opposite Taylor and one to play nickel.

    As for the 4 newcomers, Tramon Williams of the Packers was undrafted free agent in 2006 signed by the Texans and released (not even practice squad material), and look at the quality the Packers found when they signed him later that year to their own practice squad. The following season Williams secured a roster spot with Green Bay and look at him now. So lets hope for a surprise.

  • stan

    I think they still may fortify this position through the waiver wire.

  • Delilah

    No argument regarding the top four CBs. At the end of the pre-season, all 32 teams will be making their final cuts to get down to the final 53-man rosters. At that point, there will be a lot of cut players available and looking for work. Don’t be surprised if the Steelers look at the list of available CBs very closely, and pick up one (or 2) of them. It probably wouldn’t be too hard to find someone from that group with a little more experience, special teams ability, and physical height than Frederick, Carter, Freeman, and McFadden.

    In general, it is always interesting to see who is available after final cuts and who among them may be useful on your team’s roster, displacing an existing camp body. I like when the Steelers find a diamond in the rough, pull them off the scrap heap, and polish them up. Sean Morey serves as a good example after being among the Eagles final cuts. Didn’t play much WR for the Steelers, but did some nice work on special teams for a few seasons.

    Of all the various positions that comprise a team roster, I think CB is the one position this season where there is the best potential for the Steelers to go the scap heap route and find an additional contributor. All other positions on their roster will probably be filled out from the 90 incumbants they already have in camp.

  • Steel Hurtin

    This is why it would have been nice to keep Crezdon Butler around, he would have been a solid 5th corner. They should have kept him and released Will Allen Last season.

  • Jprankster2005

    How about Rolle, Or is he considered a Safety?

  • Jprankster2005

    I think Lewis should be given a 3 yr. deal this yr…. If reasonable, Because if he has a huge yr. then they might not be able to afford him…….I think they should lock up a few players this yr. while they will be cheap……..

  • SteelersDepot

    um, safety.

  • SteelerDave

    I too would love to see us pick up a more proven veteran special teams player who is also a CB and who could serve as our 5th should one be available. The 6th should then be whichever of the four reserves above who shows the best ability on special teams.

  • Clintmartin

    Denver only exposed Ryan Clark was at home watching when Mundy got tricked into thinking they were coming with the run. Denver lined up in a package that they ran out of all day knowing it would suck in Steelers aggressive safeties. Mundy was suppose to be over the top on that play.

  • Delilah

    I agree. Crez seemed to be more roster-worthy than some of the people they kept, like Will Allen. I was a little surprised when they cut him, and not at all surprised when the Cards picked him up AND put them on their 53. At the time, I just figured that Carnell Lake must know what he’s doing. This could very well be the year they cut Will Allen, once they get the chance to see what they have in DaMon Cromartie Smith & Myron Rolle.

  • LucasY59

    I commented about a week ago that Donovan Warren was released by the Bears, he had a pretty good training camp and pre season last year. I’m suprised the Steelers havent given him a shot this year, I would think he’s a better option than the 4 other CBs that are talked about in this post.

  • Anthony Renzelli

    what makes u confident in lewis brown or allen? i hope your right but none of them have been a real contributor to the defense yet

  • SteelSpine

    Since you focused on that play, That play exposed Ike Taylor is not as fast as advertised. Chasing that Denver receiver, Ike was side-by-side with Mundy who gradually beat Ike to the other end of the field. Need to be faster than a saftey. Though Ike took a bit of a stiff-arm from reciever, if you arent strong enough to keep from getting knocked outta way by reciever then you better be fast to make up for it. Steelers defense looked their age in that game, including Ike. It seems to me Denver would watch that game & make a point to try to test the speed of Ike & Mundy this year.

  • SteelSpine

    I agree the backup receivers listed in this article don’t excite me as any odds a darkhorse will rise out of that group to compete for a CB spot. Lewis should be a starter this year just based on size-speed & drafted high, but he hasnt done anywhere near enough to compensate for his penalties-some of which were dumb. I’m hoping Allen improved enough to beat-out Lewis at starter, but it’s just hopes, shaky to bank on our current CB group. Somehow LeBeau will find a way to overcome it.

  • SteelSpine

    I have major fingers crossed for Cortez Allen because need him to beat out Keen Lewis, & move Lewis back to the dumbhouse. Lewis & Ryan Mundy are still on roster because they have perfect size for their positions, plus in Lewis’ case he was drafted high. Otherwise Lewis woulda been cut.

  • SteelSpine

    I completely agree with Hurtin’s & Del’s on this.

  • SteelSpine

    If & after Lewis proves it, then yes. No way should they before then. In Lewis’ case we won’t know till at-least mid-season if he’s improved enough to want him back. That time might indeed be too late to sign him at cheap but waiting is the chance should take in Lewis’ case.

    Keenan’s ideal size & reported speed is why he was drafted in a high round, plus this being his 3rd year, those all add-up to now he should become a starter. But he hasnt lived up to that. His really-dumb plays kept returning him to the dumbhouse. So we had to spend draft picks last year on CB’s Cortez Allen & Brown. Then Lewis was given a chance last preseason then still couldnt beat out William Gay during the year or McFadden. This is the last offseason Steelers staff wants to see Lewis improved. Odds are he will improve & Steelers staff & me & everyone hoping for that. And his odds are helped by having no competition other than 2 raw 2nd-year guys Cortez & Brown, it’d be a surprise if those 2 are ready yet to be starters in NFL. It’s now or never for Lewis though because the young Cortez & Brown are on his tail.

  • Ahmad

    I must say, the CB battle is the one I’m most looking forward to seeing come training camp.

  • Ahmad

    Actually the defense started to use a 4 CB, 1 S package starting with the Pats because Allen really started to show off some skills. I’m not saying they will use it regularly this year but it is a formation that I hope they put to good use again this year.