The Pittsburgh Steelers secondary has sustained more injuries as head coach Mike Tomlin said on Tuesday during his press conference that cornerbacks Cortez Allen and Keenan Lewis both suffered hip flexor injuries in the 34-24 loss to the San Diego Chargers this past week.
With Ike Taylor already ruled out for the upcoming game Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys, Tomlin noted that the availability of Allen for Sunday is in question. Lewis, however, is expected to be able to play against the Cowboys, but both will be limited this week in practice regardless.
The injuries to both Allen and Lewis mean Curtis Brown, Josh Victorian, and DeMarcus Van Dyke will get much more work this week in practice leading up to the game and both are very likely to see action if indeed Allen is not ready.
“Both guys aren\’t afraid of the competition,” said Tomlin, when asked about Victorian and Van Dyke specifically. “Josh particularly is very ball aware and has good ball skills. DVD (Van Dyke) has played a lot of ball, particularly prior to getting here. He\’s game tested, maybe not game tested here, but I think he played in 14-15 games defensively with 2 or 3 starts in Oakland prior to us getting his services.”
“Both guys have worked extremely hard on the practice field getting an opportunity to compete against the likes of Antonio (Brown) and Mike Wallace and represented themselves rather well. But practice fields, and of course game fields, are two different things. We\’re exited about watching those guys prepare, and more importantly, putting them in a position to where they can execute with great detail as we go into the stadium on Sunday. So it\’s more about what they understand and understand very well and able to display on a game field than maybe what we necessarily would like to run or are comfortable with.”
Allen and Brown both struggled last week against the Chargers, especially on third downs. Victorian only saw a handful of snaps late in the game and also gave up a touchdown on a nice throw from Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers to wide receiver Danario Alexander in the corner of the end zone. Van Dyke has yet to see any action on defense this season.
Based on what we saw last week, combined with what Tomlin said on Tuesday, it is likely that the Steelers will be much more vanilla this week has far as defensive scheming goes. Perhaps more press coverage underneath a cover-2, especially in short yardage situations in order to protect the chains better than they did against the Chargers.
“Obviously we’re running short at the cornerback position,” Tomlin said. “We’ll continue to work with those guys and build a plan around what they’re capable of executing and executing at a high level. More than anything it’s not about what we call, it’s about what we’re capable of executing. We’ll have that in mind in regards to some of those young corners.”
It is still unclear whether or not Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant will be able to play Sunday with his injured left index finger and it would be a huge break for the Steelers secondary if he winds up not playing.