Antwon Blake Anxious To Cover Opposing Wideouts In Preseason Opener

Pittsburgh Steelers third-year cornerback Antwon Blake has only been here for less than a year. He was initially signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars as an undrafted free agent in 2012 and didn’t survive the final roster cuts in 2013, when the Steelers picked him up just prior to the start of the regular season.

In other words, he had no experience in the Steelers’ system, and thus little trust from the coaching staff to put him out on defense. He only played a snap every now and then to spell an injured player.

It even took him a while before he was integrated into the special teams rotation, which is why the Steelers targeted him in the first place. But once he got on the field, he quickly became one of Pittsburgh’s most valuable assets on special teams.

He has loftier goals for his second season in the black and gold, one that involves an active role on the defense, where he’s striving to prove he belongs in his first training camp at Latrobe.

Blake has been working with the second-team defense as an outside corner for the majority of the offseason, with the occasional first-team rep here and there. Yesterday, with Ike Taylor given a maintenance day, however, he got plenty of looks with the starting defense and wide receiver Antonio Brown.

He knows he has to show the coaches what he can do against another team, however, and he’s been tossing and turning at night waiting for that first opportunity this Saturday.

“If I can get into a game, the trust will come. I know as a second-teamer, I’ll be in there rather quickly in that first preseason game. I just want to be ready to make a play. I keep telling myself to put something on tape that I’ll be proud of”.

It seems clear that the Steelers are anticipating Blake making for some quality tape on both defense and special teams. As long as he keeps doing what he’s been doing, he should find himself getting on the field on defense this year.

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writer Mark Kaboly sees the potential for even more than just a contributor on defense, maybe not this season, but perhaps next year.

“Antwon Blake is a star in the making in my eyes”, he said yesterday when asked if the Steelers should cut or keep him on the roster this year. “He’s having a hell of a camp. He’s knocking balls down left and right. He’s a special teams wizard. I’m offended that you put Antwon Blake on the Cut ‘em or Keep ‘em List!”

“This guy might be their starting corner next year, that’s how much potential he has”, he said, noting that perhaps only Dri Archer could beat him in a foot race. “This is a guy that could be being primed to take over Ike Taylor’s job next year if they don’t sign him to another deal, that’s how much talent he has”.

There’s still plenty of time to figure that out later on down the road, but for the time being, the third-year former undrafted free agent is just ready to start being a contributor on defense, a right he appears to be earning with his training camp performances.

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • StarSpangledSteeler

    The Curious Case of Antwon Blake…

    One beat writer tweets “One of my spring surprises, No. 4 CB Antwon Blake, looked short and slow yesterday. No doubt success is fleeting at that position.”

    Another says “Antwon Blake is a star in the making… only Dri Archer could beat him in a footrace.”

    Let’s hope the latter is more accurate…

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  • Jacque Strappe

    Peter. Indeed.

  • steeltown

    There’s one thing he is not and that is slow

  • steeltown

    Im not ready to anoint him a 2015 starter on Defense, but I am very excited bout this kid. Been saying all offseason this kids going to contribute more this year and not just special teams. He has confidence in spades, add in his natural athletic ability and we could have a another hidden gem on our hands

  • dgh57

    I don’t know what to expect from Blake for sure but if he could pan out like his confidence says he will then that would sure be a real shot in the arm so to speak with regards a position that could really use it!

  • Ken

    Since drafting a cornerback early didn’t work out, It’s great to have a young player on the rise. very much needed. So much more optimism about this year’s team compared to last years..

  • joed32

    Two people can watch the same events and have opposite views on what happened. I love reading the reports from camp (Thanks Alex) but I like to make my own judgments when I get to see them play.

  • Lucus Rodriguez

    I hear he has been playing mostly outside but im ready to anoint him as our nickel cb for next season with either will gay (hopefully not) or another player that isn’t currently on the roster taking over for
    Ike. Its rare to get guys with his speed and if hes showing hes finally starting to “get it” the sky is the limit.

  • charles

    Look for qbs to do 3 second drops and short quick passes. This means speed is not as great an asset as stuffing a Calvin Johnson at the line of scrimmage. Just so happens that the NFL officials are targetting that very aspect this year. Tomlin and LeBeau and Lake HAVE to have the corners and slot extremely well coached in that regard.

  • Luis Garcia

    Being a young special teams ace, sure helps.

  • GoSteelerz

    I haven’t posted much about Blake, but he’s another underdog story that I’ve been following and that I’m really excited about, I can’t wait to see him in a game!!!!

  • http://www.reverbnation.com/JohnnyLoose Johnny Loose

    Wow! I’ve heard Blake’s name mentioned a few times on positive notes. I had no idea he’s been making this kind of impact people though. I definitely look forward to seeing what he can do on the field.