If things go as currently planned for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2015, the three defensive backs that they drafted this year shouldn’t see the field much during their rookie seasons outside of special teams work. Things can change very quickly, however, and nobody knows that more than defensive backs coach Carnell Lake.
“We’ll see,” Lake said, according to Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I’ve got my eyes on a couple of guys who can help us. Based on our history, one of the younger guys has had to step in. I like their demeanor. They’re very professional. They’re diligent and want to get better, and they’re showing they do have some playmaking ability. It’s just a matter of bringing them along.”
Depending on how cornerbacks Cortez Allen and Antwon Blake play at the start of season, rookie Senquez Golson would figure to be the first player off the bench to replace either of them and it doesn’t sound like Lake will have any reservations about throwing the second-round selection and last year’s SEC leader in interceptions right into the proverbial fire.
“That’s basically how I was raised in the NFL,” said Lake, who started immediately at strong safety during his rookie season. “From day one, I was thrown in the fire. You make a lot of mistakes. If you can correct those quickly, and make some plays while you’re doing it, you can stay around a while.”
The Steelers have had problems as of late getting cornerbacks that they drafted to “stay around”, as their last three failed to make both the 53 man roster and the practice squad. That won’t be the case with Golson and fourth-round selection, Doran Grant, however, as both should make the final 53 man roster this year barring injuries.
While the reports so far on Golson have been positive as the team enters their mandatory minicamp, Lake knows that he and the other young defensive backs have just scratched the surface as far as their development goes.
“I’m really happy with the progress they’ve been making out there,” Lake said. “We have young guys and they’re making young mistakes. But the energy level, the focus, the determination is at the top right now. You can just feel it. They’re excited. I’m excited for them. And I can’t wait to see what they have in training camp.”
As for Allen, who the Steelers hope will bounce back in 2015 after a disappointing 2014 season, he played 60 snaps during his rookie season. Lake mentioned recently that the rebuild process is underway with the former fourth-round draft pick, who was signed to a big extension last offseason.
“He’s very conscientious and trying hard out here to take another step forward in his career,” Lake said of Allen. “For Tez, the proof will be in the pudding. When the bullets start to get fired in preseason games, I’ll be looking for Tez to step up.”