Antwon Blake Believes He Has Special Teams Position Flexibility

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 “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.

  • Bell Cow

    Great. Lets just hope that neither Blake or Brown have to play defense this year.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I find it funny. We will not keep a guy like Dunn because all he can do is return Punts and Kicks but we will get a whole slew of Blakes and Browns who can only play ST’s. Doesn’t make sense to me.

  • treeher

    We did not keep Dunn because he did a bad job at returning punts and kicks. We retain Blakes and Browns on special teams because they do a good job.

  • steeltown

    C.Brown, Blake, Willie Gay, Shark Thomas, Jarvis Jones, V.Williams, Kion Wilson, Terrance Garvin, Cromartie-Smith, R.Golden…. our special teams coverage should be stout, hopefully it translates to the field

  • steeltown


  • StrengthOfVictory

    You CANNOT undervalue special teams play. In fact, if our turnover ratio increases this year, I expect a handful of those to come from special teams. Special teams play resembles a battlefield with both sides running from their respective ends toward the ball—and having an aggressive unit for that battle pays serious dividends. Forget just tackling guys inside the 20. If you have good gunners, you’ll pop the ball out sooner or later. I’d like nothing more than to hand Ben and the Steelers offense the ball in the red zone.

    Wouldn’t you?

  • Mkeller

    Dunn had a shot to stick but he blew it. He had no explosive plays and took a safety. Why would you want him? He’s fast. That doesn’t make him a good return specialist. Didn’t even return punts for his college team.

  • steeltown

    Yea, he had two pretty good kickoff returns, but his punt returns were not that impressive (the safety was ridiculous) he made it pretty easy on the coaches to make their decision

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    I wouldn’t say Dunn blew it… it probably has much to do with the production drop-off, the difference betwen LSH and Dunn is more slim at returning compared to special team tackling and let’s not forget how valuable Anthony Madison was for us, even Sean Morey.

    Today games are more about flexibility for positions. You now ONLY want strictly quarterbacks on team, more versatility on any other positions because it expand your playbook more. Its not just NFL, other sports too.

    Special team gunners/aces is undervalued, they are just as important as enforcers in hockey. Special team alone now can outplay both offense and defense, true story.

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    Somebody doesn’t understand the importance of special team tackling.

  • steeltown

    I think that safety and the fact that he didn’t show much in the passing game as a WR did him in

  • Douglas Andrews

    I don’t know that the safety did him in. He was obviously pressing to make a play by then and he needed to. I think what he didn’t do leading up to the safety did him in. Kickoff returns were just ok. As a punt returner he looked uncomfortable, didnt cleanly catch alot of those balls, and they gave him opportunities on offense and he was just ok there. Had he made some explosive plays in ST’s or on offense he would have made the 53

  • Mkeller

    I think everybody gets it. But not everybody has to believe that every player touched by the Steelers has to end up a star. Dunn is available to all 32 teams right now. He’s not even on a practice squad. Why?

  • cencalsteeler

    “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.”
    This quote needs to be put up in the locker room. Brilliant words!

  • Bell Cow

    I get it. I just hope we don’t have to rely upon our special teams aces such as Blake and Brown to play CB this year.

  • steeltown


  • RedCarpetDefense

    Agreed…I like this kid already and I ain’t even seen him play a down yet. Special teams coverage units are all about discipline and desire there’s no technique to it, you’re basically running your arse down the field to be the one to make a tackle (preferably a turnover) and if you’re the gunner even more so.

  • PA2AK

    can anyone name a team that ISN’T hoping their last 2 guys at ANY position don’t have to start?! injuries are injuries….there aren’t many teams that can handle more than a couple short-term injuries to begin with. How many people starting in the superbowl started there all year?

  • PA2AK

    same can be said for 31 other teams.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    Once again your do not get my point. Dunn is a ST guy who many said we would not keep because he can only play ST but yet we keep 2 guys that all they can do is ST. It is ironic but I already realize that you cannot handle difficult things to analyze. I wish you better luck in the future.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    He was by far the best returner we had hands down. He was raw and needed more work and I understand why he isn’t on the team and agree that he shouldn’t be on the team as he doesn’t bring enough to warrant a roster spot.