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Cortez Allen And Jason Worilds To Open Training Camp As Starters On Defense


In what will perhaps be the most obvious piece of news of the week, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin told Bob Labriola of Steelers Digest that both linebacker Jason Worilds and cornerback Cortez Allen will open up training camp as the starters at their respective positions.

Allen will take over for Keenan Lewis, who signed with the New Orleans Saints during the offseason while Worilds will take over at right outside linebacker for James Harrison, who was released prior to the start of the new league year.

The Steelers drafted Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft, but he will have a hard time overtaking Worilds, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract, during training camp.

Worilds recorded 27 total tackles in 2012 to go along with five sacks and two defensed passes.

Allen played a considerable amount of snaps in 2012 as the nickel corner, and is expected to shift inside once again in 2013 when the Steelers utilize their sub package with William Gay entering as the third cornerback.

In the final two games of the 2012 season, The Citadel product recorded two interceptions and three forced fumbles to go along with 15 total tackles.

Labriola will have his pre-camp interview with Tomlin posted Wednesday on steelers.com.

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About Dave Bryan

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • Anthony Renzelli

    I guess i’m the only one with these two opinions: 1. Cortez can become good but the sample size is too small for everyone to consider him a guaranteed upgrade from Lewis. 2. Jarvis Jones has a good shot to unseat Worilds in training camp. I highly doubt a team this desperate for playmakers won’t give him every opportunity to get on the field.

  • VaDave

    Allen is an upgrade over Lewis, or Lewis would still be here. We could have fit his contract under the sal cap if we wanted to. Being honest, I’m a little more concerned about Gay coming in at the # 2 corner spot when we going into our nickel and dime sub packages. Hopefully, Brown has a Lewis like epiphany and can settle into that role instead of Gay.

  • Shea Fahr

    Can you elaborate on why you think this is so? It is hard to comment/discuss on blanket statements without an explanation as to why they were given. In other words, it makes it difficult to debate.

  • VaDave

    Call me crazy, but I’m not on the Jones wagon for this year. Maybe next year if he can put on about 15 lbs below the waist. I got a good look at him in shorts and a t shirt a couple of months ago. He looks more like a safety, than a linebacker. No Joke. I hope he can become a terror on ST units until he fills out a bit.

  • WilliamSekinger

    Hopefully Troy will factor in to the nickel and dime packages as well. I know he is a play-maker around the line of scrimmage, but in 3rd and long situations when you know they are going deep help your weakest link in Gay with one of your best play makers in Troy. Blitz Timmons in those situations.

  • sgtrobo

    no reason to deny Jones a chance. Allen starting was a forgone conclusion

  • sgtrobo

    careful VaDave. “Jon Scott is an upgrade over Max Starks or Starks would still be here”. “Jason Worilds is an upgrade over James Harrison or Harrison would still be here”

  • Anthony Renzelli

    Again, cortez allen’s sample size is a total of what 5 games? Didn’t say he can’t be a good corner but that’s hardly enough to show he’s an upgrade, why didn’t he beat lewis in camp last year? Jarvis Jones was the most disruptive defensive player in college football last year and not just in regards to rushing the passer, which some people on here claim. He had 20 some tackles for a loss, he’s not just gonna be slated as #2 without an interesting camp battle. At the very least he’ll be rotated in situationally.

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    It IS not a small sample. Cortez Allen have displayed plenty as a nickel CB, it wasn’t a competition between him and Keenan Lewis; their positions on outside and inside already were set. You don’t look toward who beat whom for a spot, you look at development and timing of skillset blossoming, Cortez is technically starting for second year but not as a nickel cornerback anymore.

    Jarvis jones on other hand is really good but if you are going to tell me he’ll produce sacks like how our LBs usually does, I’ll have hard time making a straight face. Worilds already have an NFL body to go with his years of experience. Remember worilds is 260+ lbs who run sub 4.5 on his pro day, Worilds now are in Keenan Lewis’ shoes- he will be either making a lot somewhere or getting a reduced salary with us after 2014 and that’s not a bashing against his skillset but we found somebody who is more “well-rounded” and could develop much more (Jarvis Jones and Adrian Robinson)

  • VaDave

    Jon Scott was an upgrade over a Starks that was hurt and could not play. Jason Worlids is not going to be an upgrade over the Harrison of 2008 by any stretch of the imagination, but considering Harrison is 36, playing only parts of the last two seasons, some of which was in a diminished capacity, maybe in the present tense, at best a replacement?

  • woundedvet

    You explained your points well. Is small sample size because nickle or dime cb isnt same as playing every defensiv snap or covering offenses’ top receivers all game. But a rookie OLB wont play any snap for LeBeau, though you are right that Jarvis is special a playmaker. Jarvis’ knack you dont find at bogus track meet testing days for which everyone had learned to bolt out of the blocks to run fast 40 times.

  • VaDave

    Oh, he’ll get a chance no doubt, and may play some in certain situations. I would not be surprised at that at all. As I said, I got a good look at him. I also got a good up close of Harrison as well. Harrison, while shorter, was much wider, especially from the hips down. This is where he got the power to drive through the OL. No doubt , Jones is a solid athlete, but when you see him padded up, he’s going to look more like a David Fulcher type safety that a linebacker. He’s is not going to be anywhere near as powerful. He may be as fast, as quick, but there is no way he’s going to blow through linemen like Harrison did. JMO.

  • woundedvet

    The reason Lewis not here is because Steeler could not enter a bidding war to outbid every team if the FA’s goal is to take highest bid to cash in on his rise in the NFL. Cortez is considered as good or not sigificantly worse than Keenan. Noone said Cortez is better or proved to be better, so I think thats some fandom. Cortez upside though is great unlimited because he’s longer/taller than Lewis.

  • VaDave

    Action speaks louder than words. You are right nobody said Cortez was better than Lewis last offseason. They didn’t have too. There was no bidding war, we just weren’t going to pay lewis starter pay to sit on the bench.
    What WAS said, numerous times by the FO , coaches, and various publications, Allen has a ton of upside that Lewis doesn’t have, and expect him to settle in as our number one corner when Ike hangs ‘em up.

  • woundedvet

    Its getting weird you keep sticking to your only reason bring that a guy in dress clothes looked thin. This isnt Men’s Warehouse, the player has a knack for making big plays.

  • VaDave

    Vet, Thank you for your sacrifice and service to our country.If it weren’t for men like you, we wouldn’t be discussing football.

  • VaDave

    LOL. No, I’m not weird, just posting an observation, and a pretty strong opinion he’s not going to have the same impact this year in the NFL. Again, this year. Next year, we will see.
    The guy did make some plays last year no doubt…. in college. This site put up GIFs of his 14 sacks from last season a while back, and nowhere to be found was him fighting through a block from an offensive lineman. Getting around the starting tackle from Clemson is one thing, getting around a Joe Thomas, and then finding a halfback that can block is entirely different.
    That said, I claim no expertise. He seems like he’s a decent kid, and I hope he does well. We need him to do well, because, Worlids, (IMO, not as bad as people suspect), is not the long term answer.

  • steeltown

    No surprise here…

  • Jason Brant

    Cortez Allen’s sample size is a helluva lot more than 5 games.

  • Milliken Steeler

    Lets look at it like this. Even if he isn’t an upgrade and is just equal this year. We were number 1 against the pass and ill take that. Its also likely based on his performance that he might cause more turnovers which will help of course also right?

  • sgtrobo

    Harrison is one of the strongest players in the NFL, not fair to compare them. :P. I agree with everything you said about Jones. I hope he is able to add some solid muscle and contribute on 3rd and long as a pass rushing specialist this season

  • sgtrobo

    amen to that one Dave! ;)

    Leatherneck! Where’d you get tagged? Helmand?

  • ATL96STEELER

    Agree…nothing new learned…C. Brown is under the gun to keep the nickel job. Not only from Gay…they feel Hawthorne is a player. I think he’ll be the other starting CB ’14.

  • Milliken Steeler

    Dave i understand your point of “view” literally with Jarvis however, he is already 245. There is no reason for me to not think at his young age, that he cant put on another 10 to 12 lbs.

  • ATL96STEELER

    Lewis…Ike’s cap hit is something north of $9 mil for ’13…The Steelers have known for sometime that they could not, and were not going to pay 2 CBs prime time money. They knew Allen & Lewis were close heading into last season…Lewis won the job, got the big FA deal. Allen is now the bargain basement starter opposite Ike.

    Allen is under-contract for roughly $700k in ’14…If Hawthorne looks ready…look for them to cut Ike’s final yr ($10 mil ’14 contract), redo Allen a yr early at about $3 mil per.

  • Jeff

    Question for everyone.. If at the end of camp, Jarvis Jones surprises everyone with a stellar preseason and even splits starting reps with Worilds, should the steelers consider going with Jones to start the season?
    This is why I ask… if Worilds ends up starting this season and plays anywhere between average to great, history shows that someone will offer him a high end contract.. Would the steelers give Worilds a big contract after JUST using a first round pick on Jones? It would probably mean Jones would be limited to a backup for several years, barring a complete collapse from Woodley. So I tend to think if Worilds has a good season, he’s gone. Considering the alternative, where Worilds struggles as a starter this year, Jones will be starting next year anyways. Either scenario, Jones is starting next year anyways. So if he appears to be neck and neck with Worilds throughout training camp, maybe the steelers should just take a risk and start him now…. Just a thought

  • ATL96STEELER

    I saw Jones a ton LY and to be honest…I’m not thinking he will start either…he was a safety early on if memory serves me right…@ USC I think

    I agree with your point but he’d be a pretty big S right now. About Von Miller size, slightly bigger actually.

  • ATL96STEELER

    Allen…Playing on the edge vs the slot is different, so sample size does matter. That said, Allen has all the tools to be a starter…technique wise I think he and Lewis were on the same level…Lewis played better in pre-season and that won him the job.

    Allen can play bump-n-run, has good change of direction and closing speed…upgrade? No, but I don’t expect much drop off either.

  • steeltown

    Even with a stellar preseason I don’t think Jarvis starts unless Worilds is injured, just my opinion. I think the coaching staff truly wants to see what Worilds can do

  • ATL96STEELER

    You pose a big IF…this is just MO. I think Worilds has shown enough to get this chance to start, but he hasn’t shown enough to be the heir apparent to the ROLB job.

    If Worilds has a great season…more than likely he would be gone, but I don’t foresee him getting a huge deal off one season like Lewis did. I don’t think Jones is an ILB, but I could be wrong…people forget Timmons was drafted to play OLB also.

    Neck & neck…with so much to learn within the scheme, I just don’t see how Jones would be able to play at full speed, so I don’t see how a neck and neck situation could happen.

  • walter mason

    Think of how Jack Ham looked when he was drafted or imagine how Jack Lambert looks in shorts. Looks can be deceiving.

  • VaDave

    Wow Walt, that was a different era. It’s hard to compare them. The players were much lighter back then. If you go onto Steelers.com, in the history section, you can find all the players of that era and their measurements when they were drafted. Shoot, back then the heaviest player on the team was Joe Greene at 270lbs. Granted our average player weight plummeted this year with Big Snack ( 360?) Colon ( 340) and Starks (340) not around….( no they’re still round, just not here), but still I think some of the sizes back in the 70’s may surprise you.

  • VaDave

    I honestly think Worilds will be solid, but not spectacular. No, we’re not going to see the Harrison type splash plays out of him, but at the end of the day he will have a respectable stat line. JMO. That said, if Jones is the real deal like a good many feel, it’s going to be a short tenure. Anyway, it’s going to be fun to watch him develop.

  • walter mason

    Yes I remember there were very few lineman over 300 on any team and the Steelers OL were about 250 (without looking). .But I thought we were talking about linebacker. And I still think those 2 guys I mentioned could play in todays era no problem..

  • ATL96STEELER

    We really don’t know what Jones will be like as a pro yet…we have a small sampling of Worilds…If Jones’ knack for finding the ball follows him to the NFL…he will make more splash plays than Worilds…agree it should be fun to watch.

  • Dave Bradley

    Does van Dyke have a shot as a starter?

  • Anthony Renzelli

    Now that was a good comment. Kudos to you sir, may i purchase tickets to your stand up act? Keep doubting Jones and he’ll just pleasantly surprise you

  • Dave Bradley

    what does Jones have to do with Van dyke. Jones is a LB, while Van Dyke is a CB.

  • Anthony Renzelli

    Thought you were being a smart*** and comparing jones’ chance to start to van dykes, my bad. I dont think van dyke can start but might see some snaps if he cuts down on stupid mistakes

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