Just a little more than year ago, former Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Keenan Lewis predicted that he would make the Pro Bowl in 2012. That prediction didn\’t come true of course, but Lewis played so well that he got himself a five-year, $25.5 million contract from the New Orleans Saints this past offseason.
The Steelers didn\’t try to prevent Lewis from leaving because they have confidence that third-year cornerback Cortez Allen can replace him. However, as Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports on Tuesday, Allen isn\’t going to follow the lead of Lewis when it comes to guaranteeing he will make the Pro Bowl in 2013.
“I\’m not that type to make predictions or boast about myself,” Allen said, via the Bouchette report. “I\’m a very humble guy. I just come to work every day and try to get better and better so I can help my team the best I can.”
Allen showed signs in 2011 as a rookie that he could become a future starter at cornerback for the Steelers when he held New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski in check while playing in the slot in his first extended game action of his young career on defense. Since that time, Allen has seen his playing time increase and he even started three games last year late in the season after fellow cornerback Ike Taylor went down with a fractured right ankle.
In the final two games of the 2012 season, Allen recorded two interceptions and forced three fumbles as a starter, and that is something the Steelers defense needs more of heading into 2013. According to Bouchette, Allen says that is always being worked on in practice.
“We\’re working on it everyday, doing more ball drills, more emphasis on attacking the ball so we can do better in that category,” Allen said.
In addition to starting opposite Taylor in 2013, Allen is also expected to resume the slot roll that he played in 2012 when the Steelers utilize their nickel personnel this upcoming season. As far as playing in the slot versus playing outside goes, Allen was asked Saturday morning during his interview on 93.7 The Fan to explain the differences of the two positions.
“It\’s usually a more shiftier guy in that position,” said Allen about playing in the slot versus playing outside. “It\’s a different animal as far as the type of receiver that you face, and sometimes you might face the big tight ends like Gronkowski.
“So it\’s a different aspect as to just what type of body that you\’re getting, and also it\’s more of a two-way for them because they have more field to work with as far as playing the outside cornerback where you have the sideline as your friend and things like that.
“Just that aspect of it is different and also being in that slot position you have to be aware of a lot more things, because a lot of things that you do are predicated on what happens in the course of that play. So it\’s a lot more thinking that goes into it.”
That last time that the Steelers had a cornerback earn a Pro Bowl selection was in 1996 when Rod Woodson earned his last trip to Hawaii as a Pittsburgh player. That season Woodson registered six interceptions, and that is certainly a great number for Allen to shoot for in 2013. I\’m not going to guarantee that he will hit that number, but I also wouldn\’t bet against him hitting it either.