Will Antwon Blake Show Off His Special Skills This Week?

By Matthew Marczi

One of the surprise inactives for the Pittsburgh Steelers in their Week One loss was one of their late acquisitions, cornerback Antwon Blake. The Steelers released cornerback Isaiah Green (later re-signing him to the practice squad) in order to make room for Blake on the roster, yet he was a game day inactive.

A diminutive defensive back, Blake had unsurprisingly carved out a niche in the league as an undrafted rookie last season with the Jacksonville Jaguars by displaying an aptitude for special teams play. He led the team in special teams tackles in 2012, yet was released in the final cuts a few weeks ago.

Was he inactive simply because he was not yet up to speed on special teams coach Danny Smith’s system, as was also the case for Cody Wallace along the offensive line? If so, will he be active this week, and over whom?

Curtis Brown has established himself over the course of his first two seasons as the team’s best special teams player, leading the team in tackles on special teams during both seasons, and he continued his strong work in the opening game by recording a tackle and forcing another punt to be fair caught.

Meanwhile, rookie safety Shamarko Thomas had a great preseason establishing himself as a viable option as the opposite gunner, which is the role that he fulfilled in Week One, and he showed well by shedding a blocker to make a tackle.

What’s more, safety Robert Golden also registered two tackles on special teams, and Markus Wheaton showed potential as well. If these players continue to do well in their special teams roles, when—and where—will Blake be able to fit in?

The most likely role that he can usurp will be taking over Cortez Allen’s special teams responsibilities. Allen played four snaps on special teams in the first half before leaving the game with an ankle injury.

Should Allen be unable to play, one would have to think that Blake is a lock to dress, because the Steelers have just five cornerbacks as it is, despite the fact that both Thomas and Golden are capable of covering as well.

William Gay is also a contributor on special teams, though not as much as he once was. Even Ike Taylor played seven snaps on special teams. There are plenty of snaps to subsume for Blake whenever the coaching staff deems him up to speed on his special teams responsibilities.

In doing so, it should help relieve some of the special teams responsibilities of major defensive contributors, including the team’s top three cornerbacks.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    Maybe somebody else knows but not sure what you would need to know on ST but to run and tackle…its like slaughter the bum…get the guy with the ball.

  • steeltown

    I think we have paid plenty of attention to ST coverage in the offseason, we have some beasts out there covering kicks. Im not sure why we need another guy on roster purely for coverage, if he also returned kicks it would be a different story, but at this point I’d rather have another CB that can play on Defense (e.g. Isaiah Green) especially with C.Allen hampered with injury

  • steeltown

    kill the carrier

  • Shannon Stephenson

    That was a point I was trying to make on another post and was slaughtered if you will for it although I came from a different direction. ST is very important but cover corners in a passing league maybe important too.

  • Mike Carroll

    I agree. Do we really need a backup for Curtis Brown? HaHa. On the plus side, the CB depth is so thin right now, it really seems to indicate a lot of defensive snaps for Shamarko this season.

  • cencalsteeler

    I’d like to give props this last week to team penalties. It seems the special teams didn’t shoot themselves in the foot this last week and the team as a whole did fairly well. Gosh, I hope I didn’t just jinx them!

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    Likewise i make valid points stating facts then someone disagrees but dont explain their point of view

  • PA2AK

    to be fair though…Worilds was trying to help his case for time with his penalty! I get your point though…not nearly as many penalties.