The Pittsburgh Steelers like as many of their players as possible to have position flexibility and defensive back Antwon Blake, who the team claimed off waivers Sunday from the Jacksonville Jaguars, believes that he has special teams position flexibility.
“I have been told I have a knack for special teams and that is my niche in my career,” Blake told Teresa Varley of Steelers.com. “I can play any special teams position, except kicker and punter. I take special teams as another defensive snap for me. I am going to go out and compete and play hard and make plays for this team.”
The Steelers were certainly not happy with the way their special team units played during the preseason, and it resulted in them not only claiming Blake off waivers, but also signing former New England Patriots punter Zoltan Mesko after he cleared waivers.
Blake led the Jaguars in special teams tackles last season with 12 and had initially made their 53 man roster this year before being waived.
“I initially made the 53-man roster, so I wasn’t expecting any moves,” said Blake, who originally signed with Jaguars last season as an undrafted free agent out of Texas-El Paso. “It’s real tough. I probably didn’t go to sleep until about three in the morning.”
Blake will likely be gunner on the Steelers punt coverage units, so he should compliment cornerback Curtis Brown nicely. Special teams coordinator Danny Smith was hired during the offseason to improve a unit that ranked 22nd in the league last year in punt return average allowed, and his resume suggests that he knows the kind of players needed to make sure that improvement happens.
As for Blake, he certainly seems to know that his actions will determine how long he stays in Pittsburgh.
“I don’t need to be heard, I just need to be seen as far as my work ethic and what I can bring to this team on the field. When you work hard, everything else comes with it.”
The Steelers will open their 2013 season Sunday at Heinz Field against the Tennessee Titans and if Blake shows up on the stat sheet, he might be able to go to sleep Sunday night as soon as his head hits the pillow.