Steelers CB William Gay Once Again Getting Limited Work At Safety

With starting Pittsburgh Steelers safeties Troy Polamalu (concussed birth certificate) and Mike Mitchell (groin) both sidelined Sunday during practice, cornerback William Gay actually got to take a few reps with the first-team safeties in their absence.

This is not the first time such an event has happened as defensive backs coach Carnell Lake has been good about trying to cross position train Gay ever since he was hired to the coaching staff.

“In the past William has played some safety,” Lake said of Gay following the 2013 NFL Draft . “He’s rotated back there based on some concepts that we were working. My first year with him and even in years past when he was here, he could play safety. I’m not counting on him being a down in and down out safety. He’s not built for a safety position, but he can do it.

“Will was a really productive corner for me when I had him here. He started for me both outside on first and second down and on third down as a nickel. He knows the defense in and out and that’s why I’m really glad we have him back. He can also tutor the younger guys coming up. We can plug and play Will just about anywhere on the field and he can be productive for us.”

We don’t talk about Gay receiving practice snaps at safety very much as it probably very rarely happens. With it happening this year in training camp, however, and with so many other healthy safeties currently on the roster, it makes you wonder about the 2014 status of veteran Will Allen.

Allen, who head coach Mike Tomlin likes to refer to as a “extremely low-maintenance guy”, has been spotted taking quite a few second-team reps at both safety spots thus far in training camp. That would lead you to believe that his roster spot this year is a virtual lock, but I’m starting to wonder if that’s really the case.

Over the next few weeks, young safeties Shamarko Thomas, Robert Golden and Jordan Dangerfield will all get an opportunity to show how they’ve progressed during the preseason and if at least two of the three play well, it could make Allen very much expendable. And especially if the team believes Gay can play one of the positions in an emergency situation.

Think about this. If Allen were to be released just prior to the start of the regular season, there’s a good chance he would remain unemployed for quite a while. Should injuries strike the Steelers safety position, he would be a quick phone call away from being right back on the roster.

  • colingrant

    Gay – Valued, under-appreciated

  • cencalsteeler

    I sure would like to see Spence take some reps at safety. Multi positional player who could serve as a viable back up at two positions. I look at Spence the way the coaching staff looks at Will Johnson. A talented guy who needs to be on the field in some form or fashion.

  • steeltown

    I think eventually we may see just that. If he continues to show that he has fully recovered, I suspect this time next year we may see him in different looks.

  • Shea Fahr

    I would like to see Garvin get a few reps back there to see if he could handle it in an emergency.. They do refer to him as a “big Safety” rather than a “small LB”. I think he played some at WV?

  • Kenneth Wilt

    I honestly think this may show that the FO and coaching staff like to many DBs. As I see it, we have about 10 spots at DB available on the roster unless we keep only 8 LBs and 6 Dlineman. That I don’t see happening, so I still think 10.

    I think Troy, Thomas, and Mitchell are set.
    I think Ike, Allen, Gay, and Blake are set.

    That leaves 3 spots for: W. Allen, Golden, Richardson and McCain.

    One of these guys isn’t making the squad. Do we keep the vet over a cover man in McCain? Do we keep Golden, who is a special team guy, over the vet who can play either of the safety positions? Will the draft pick outperform the vet? Do we keep 6 Corners and 4 safeties, or do we keep 5 of each? If we keep 5 of each, then Richardson and McCain are fighting for 1 spot, but I think the better perspective is that the 4 of them are fighting for 3 spots. None of them are safe….none of them.

  • Grandmaster Fistage

    I’ve been saying that they should consider converting Spence to safety since he was drafted. His size and weight are very comparable to several top safeties in the league, and he definitely has the speed, instinct, and awareness to play the position. I would much rather see him be converted to safety than to sit as a depth guy at inside linebacker and move to another team after his contract is up.

  • cencalsteeler

    Don’t forget about Dangerfield!

  • cencalsteeler

    Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding!! (confetti falls from sky). Exactly, nice post.

  • cencalsteeler

    Daves last paragraph is the ringer. With that much talent behind Allen, why hold a roster spot for a one year guy, and release your possible future. I’d hate to see an AFC North team grab Dangerfield and have to deal with that guy laying people out for the next 8 years. These young guys are in our back yard, close the gate and nail up the loose fence boards!

  • mokhkw

    40 yard times from 2012 before the injury were 4.66(.ave) with a low of 4.57 and a high of 4.75. I’m less optimistic that will happen.

  • Kenneth Wilt

    To me, Dangerfield has some skill, but I think the coaches will take the position of practice squad with him. He has work to do, and if he can do what J. Brown did this past offseason, then we might have something to work with there. To me, Danger has NO SHOT at beating out Allen, and if Golden is going to go, it will be to keep a CB.

  • cencalsteeler

    I was using Dangerfield as an example of the young group behind Allen. I base value on a player on whether his arrow is pointing up or not. To me, Allen has plateaued, it may be time to replace him with someone who’s arrow is on the rise. It makes sense to me what Dave says, make room for a young talent and Allen is just a phone call away if needed later on.

  • cencalsteeler

    I personally don’t hold too much value on 40 times. As long as a player is in the range, is fine with me. Closing speed, changing direction speed, and a sense of where the ball is are more important to me. What would you say Troys 40 time is currently? Corner speed is more of a factor, IMO, than a safeties.

  • joed32

    Nothing wrong with that kind of logic. I just want to see more of him before getting rid of a steady vet. Every year players stand out in camp and fans fall in love with them but they never amount to anything. I hope I can get behind him but it’s too early.