The Pittsburgh Steelers allowed free agent cornerback Keenan Lewis to leave uncontested this off-season because they are confident third-year cornerback Cortez Allen can easily fill his shoes. Allen was a guest Sunday morning on 93.7 The Fan and as asked about the confidence that he has in the team this upcoming season despite the losses that they\'ve had.
“I feel confident in our ability to compete,” Allen said. “The environment within the locker room I think has not changed as far as what we expect from each other and what we expect for of this organization. We still do have the key components in every phase of our team. We still have guys that helped us, minus Keenan Lewis, that helped us be the number one secondary in the league, and a lot of guys are still here who helped us be the number one defense.
"We still have Ben (Roethlisberger). We still have Heath (Miller), who is getting healthy. We still have Antonio (Brown). We still have a lot of key players in there that are contributing in a lot of our success and we still have a lot of the same staff, so I’m very, very confident in what we will do and what we’re capable of doing when we put the work into it.”
Allen, who in his rookie season showed he had a ton up upside in the win over the New England Patriots when he matched up against tight end Rob Gronkowski in the slot, was asked when the first time was that he felt comfortable in the defense, and the Citadel product reference that very game in his answer.
"I would say after my first real game being on defense was against the Patriots, said Allen. "I was able to have success and I was able to be a factor in a lot of things. I had a pretty good grasp on the defense, there.
"I spent a lot of time with Coach Lake in just learning what we\'re doing, not just my position, but the positions around me. I\'ve always tried to be a sponge in a sense, so that I could better help myself in the grand scheme of things. So I would say that was the first time I really got a chance to experience it head on and see what it\'s like and see that I can contribute a lot more."
Allen really had a solid sophomore season in 2012 and it resulted in him recording 55 total tackles, 10 passes defensed, two interceptions and three forced fumbles. With Lewis now gone, Allen will start opposite Ike Taylor in the Steelers secondary and he is expected to slide inside to the slot when the team utilizes their nickel personnel.
Should Allen stay healthy, you would have to think that he has a legitimate shot at earning his first Pro Bowl selection in only his first year as a full-time starter.
Listen to the full interview below: