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Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – CB Cortez Allen

End-of-season player exit meetings are not something that we are often privy to as outsiders of the football world. Generally, we only get a glimpse into that world when a player is asked by a reporter how the meeting went, if the player is willing to discuss it.

Still, it’s not generally a hard concept to grasp, and we have a pretty good feel by now of how Mike Tomlin and his staff likes to operate, and we see all the game film, so it’s not an overly difficult project to simulate. If we were to administer the end-of-season player exit meetings, it might go something like this.

Player: Cortez Allen

Position: Cornerback

Experience: 3 Years

The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted cornerback Cortez Allen out of The Citadel in the fourth round of the 2011 draft believing that he was a project, but a project worth taking on due to his raw abilities and lack of exposure to the game.

That project was accelerated, as he uncharacteristically saw 60 snaps on defense during his rookie season as the dime back, the bulk of them coming in the middle of the season from Week Seven to Week Nine.

By far his most extensive playing time came in Week Eight against the New England Patriots. A year after watching tight end Rob Gronkowski torch William Gay in a breakout rookie campaign, defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau matched up his tall young corner against the All-Pro tight end.

In his 19 snaps, Allen limited Gronkowski to just 44 yards on four receptions and, more importantly, kept him out of the end zone a year after scoring three times on a Steelers defense that would eventually make it to the Super Bowl.

That performance was great encouragement for the Steelers, who allowed Gay to walk in free agency in order to allow Allen to inherit the nickel back role. He had a great season overall in 2012, and gained his first starting experience, starting three of the last four games for the injured Ike Taylor.

That encouragement in part led the front office to the decision that they could stand to lose Keenan Lewis in free agency, who finally emerged as a complete starter in his fourth season. Allen was expected to fill his shoes in 2013, but as he would find out, those were pretty big shoes to fill.

It didn’t start off well, as Allen missed most of training camp after requiring a minor operation on his knee. Just to pile on, he twisted his ankle toward the end of the first half in the season opener, missing the next two games.

When he returned against the Minnesota Vikings, he was burned for two touchdowns by Greg Jennings—one a long one as a result of a poor missed tackle, the other over his shoulder in the end zone when the veteran receiver got him turned around. Fortunately, it was his worst game of the season by some margin.

Allen spent most of the rest of the season as the nickel back while Gay—returning after one season away—filled in admirably as a starter once again. This allowed Allen to regain his composure and his confidence, as well as his health, in a less demanding role, though he continued to receive significant playing time.

By season’s end, he was back in the starting lineup, playing all but five total snaps over the course of the last three games, which were all victories. While he gave up a touchdown against the Green Bay Packers, he also scored one of his own with his first career pick six on his second interception of the season. He also deflected five passes over the course of those last three games.

Allen’s first full-time foray into the world of NFL starting cornerback got off to a rocky start, and there were many bumps along the way, but there was certainly plenty to build on heading into next season.

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