Steelers DB Coach Carnell Lake Looking For CB Curtis Brown To Turn The Corner In 2013

On Saturday, Pittsburgh Steelers defensive backs coach Carnell Lake received two new pupils during the 2013 NFL draft in the form of safety Shamarko Thomas and cornerback Terry Hawthorne. Hawthorne, who the Steelers selected in the fifth round, will now compete for a roster spot and presumably push cornerback Curtis Brown, the Steelers third round pick in 2011.

Lake was asked during his press conference where Brown fits right now in his plans after the selection of Hawthorne on Saturday.

“We’re hoping that Curtis can turn the corner right now,” said Lake, who is entering his third year coaching the Steelers defensive backs. “I have a lot of hope for Curtis. I think he has all the physical tools as well. Curtis’ opportunities, for me at least in my own opinion, is to come on strong this year and I think he can do that.”

Lake was then asked if the biggest issue with Brown right now is him staying healthy and on the field
“He’s been banged up,” said Lake. “In training camp he came in and he was banged up early and so I didn’t get a chance to work with him in the offseason my first year and then when he got to training camp he was really banged up and missed a lot of time. So I’m hoping really that this training camp will be an opportunity for him to really grow.”

In his first two years with the Steelers, Brown has only played 84 defensive snaps with all of those coming last year mostly in nickel and dime situations. In the Week 14 game against the San Diego Chargers, Brown allowed six receptions on six targets for 84 yards and double-move touchdown. He played so poorly that he was eventually yanked from the blowout game late in favor of the newly signed Josh Victorian.

While Brown hasn\’t looked good so far on the defensive side of the ball for the Steelers, he has been excellent on special teams, and even led the team in tackles last season on those units. Unfortunately, with only 53 roster spots available, being a special teams ace might not be enough for Brown to make the roster should he not turn the proverbial corner.

Hawthorne, like Brown, is regarded by Lake as a player that doesn\’t mind tackling. Another plus for the Illinois product is that he might be put into the mix to battle for the return job. Should he become an asset on special teams, and have a solid training camp on the defensive side of the ball, he could wind up making Brown a little more nervous than he probably is right now.

How will this play out? I have a feeling that Lake was just trying to send a message to Brown on Saturday through the media. While I certainly could wind up being wrong, I don\’t think that the Steelers are ready to give up on Brown just yet, baring of course him totally falling on his face once again in the preseason. In the end, I think his play on special teams will at least afford him a roster spot in 2013 with the hopes that he might still become the heir apparent to veteran cornerback Ike Taylor.

  • Nolrog

    Ha ha ha. Nice play on words.

  • zyzak

    It would be a real bonus if Brown could play and be effective. It would make the loss of Lewis more palatable

  • RW

    Heir apparent to Ike Taylor? Not happening in this lifetime.

  • Pete

    Lake said he fully expects Brown to turn the corner this year. They always say that’s what they expect from 2nd year players. This is really his 2nd year (because his true first year was a wash). Last season was more like his rookie season. So I think that’s what we’ll see from him. 2013 will be his breakout year. Brown has all the tools. Look how long it took Lewis. Give the kid a chance. It would be nice to hear about him training with Ike down in Florida.

  • charles

    I have GREAT confidence in Carnell. He is hands down the best and the best prepared secondary coach in the league, I am hopeful that he eventually succeeds Mr LeBeau. That said Brown will need to have a strong camp to change anybodies mind after Rivers preyed on him last year. I am pulling for him.

  • hergieburbur

    Brown hasn’t impressed at all yet, but he still has potential and I am hoping we see it soon. Since Hawthorne and Justin Brown can reportedly play ST as well, it could be an interesting battle to see how that goes, though the rooks should be easy enough to stash on the PS.

  • steeltown

    Curtis was the leading tackler on special teams his rookie year.. guy is athletic and can tackle, he does need to turn the proverbial corner in regards to actual pass defense. I think its all mental with him at this point, he’s capable physically.. if he turns the corner..great… if not, I look for Hawthorne or Van Dyke to take full advantage

  • steeltown

    You bring up the point of JBrown playing special teams…
    Lets assume for a moment, that A.Brown, Sanders, Wheaton and Cotchery are healthy and starting come week 1… who is 5th.. Burress?…. I think J.Brown and Gilreath bring that added dimension of special teams capabilities and one could possibly overtake him

  • Mike.H

    For a guy nearly 6 feet tall, and 4.5 speed, perhaps work on opening your hips MORE and lose 5 lbs? Sometimes, half a step faster’s would make the entire world’s difference.

  • LucasY59

    Butler is next in line for DC when Lebeau retires