Film Room: Brian Allen Gunning For A Regular Helmet

I don’t know what kind if defensive player Brian Allen is going to become over the course of his career, but I already see the potential for him to be a meaningful contributor on special teams at some point in his career, even if the Pittsburgh Steelers’ fifth-round rookie cornerback will struggle to consistently dress for games.

Because the team had three injuries on Sunday, he did get a chance to dress, and when he was given chances to participate on special teams, he generally made the most of them, playing as both a gunner and then seeing some time as a jammer late as well.

The first opportunity he saw at gunner came in the middle of the second quarter, on which the Steelers pulled Darrius Heyward-Bey inside on the opposite side of the field, leaving Allen as the lone gunner. The Vikings countered with two jammers, the second trailing late, but the rookie was able to get down the field, and nearly made the tackle on the return, showing some physicality in his efforts.

Later in the quarter, the Steelers this time moved Allen rather than Heyward-Bey inside of the punting formation and asked him to block in protection, a role that he carried out well, actually blocking two players.

Finally, at the end of the half, both gunners were on the boundaries together, and the two of them combined to get down the field and induce a fair catch. There is a satisfying synchronicity watching this replay, I must concede.

Now in the second half, five minutes into the fourth quarter, the Steelers punted from the Vikings’ 34-yard line, so it wasn’t too hard for the gunners to get down the field, but Allen did so in a hurry, buying himself time to turn around and locate the ball, giving him the opportunity to track it and field it, downing the ball at the one-yard line.

As I mentioned, he also got a couple of snaps as a jammer, including on the Vikings’ next punt. On this play, Heyward-Bey played inside coverage and ultimately helped Allen wedge the left-side gunner, basically taking him out of the play entirely.

I understand that all of Allen’s supporters are anticipating seeing what he can contribute as a 6’3”, 215-pound cornerback on defense, but for now, I am pleased with what I am seeing from him as a special-teamer. That alone should buy him time as he develops his craft.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

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

  • falconsaftey43

    That’s some good ST play

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    He made the most of his game opportunity!

  • Boots

    It’s really nice to see the kid come in and understand the situation and embrace doing what he’s needed to do to make himself a viable commodity on game days. With his natural physical traits and abilities and that work ethic this kids future looks brighter and brighter.

  • Steve Johnson

    I just hope they don’t try and stash him on the P.S. when or if they activate (CB) Sutton.

  • steeltown

    Pretty impressive

  • DSG

    Good article. I really hope his st
    Play is a harbinger for cb play. I think you meant 5th round not 5th year though

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    Excellent article, Matt. Top notch.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    Good point Boots.

    When Allen first arrived here, he didn’t have much in the way of special teams highlight tape. He was a poor tackler. Some people even questioned his physicality.

    There is no doubt Brian Allen has improved very quickly. But perhaps the most impressive thing about him is his attitude. He has worked hard and embraced his role as a active/inactive special teamer. No complaining (that i’ve heard).

    I believe we will see the same type of work and improvement with his CB skills. He will be on the field by next year. Book it.

  • T3xassteelers

    Yeah, idk what happens with that.. Keep extra CB and release Big Dan? About my only only scenario that doesn’t include Allen..

  • Rob H

    All I wanted for Allen was the opportunity to learn and develop, and see what kind of corner he can become…for THIS team. My highest expectations for him this year was by the end of the year possibly having a regular role on special teams, and maybe a niche role on defense occasionally. The fact that he was active in only the second game (no matter the reason), and already showing some natural special team skills is a huge bonus.

  • Rob H

    There are several better options than just big Dan.

  • joe triplehorns

    If they put him on p.s. I would put money on patriots taking him.

  • Steve Johnson

    Well, you could be right. Belicheck could sign him and pick his brain for that November showdown.

  • SilverSteel

    Weird that I expect good ST play every week now. Very impressive turnaround by our coaches.

  • Alan Tman

    Yes I was excited we drafted this guy, and happy with his eagerness to do anything asked of him. Also he seems to be a guy who wants to learn and excel.

  • Michael Conrad

    I said from the beginning. I hoped they would keep him on the 53 man roster and find him a little playing time. He has nice size and speed and needs time to develop as a CB. I liked want I saw in preseason.

    Allen I see you and now others see you.

  • Charles Haines

    BB doesn’t need any assistance shredding Steelers D

  • James Churchwell

    Yes Sir, I agree wholeheartedly with you, very impressive…Keep up the good work Danny& Co.

  • James Churchwell

    It’s Booked!, and I’ll remember to give you your props, when it happens.

  • T3xassteelers

    Not really. Big Dan never gets a helmet (except last week) and Steelers are too thin at safety to release someone like Golden. Easy choice.

  • Matthew Marczi

    To be honest, on Sunday, the Steelers didn’t even use him on the field goal blocking unit.

  • Arthur Branch

    I think it all relates to the fact that we now have good reserves at all positions. So the special teams talent pool is better than it used to be.

  • pittsburghjoe

    I love it… I hope he develops into something.

  • Wil Masisak

    Allen has the best kind of ability: Availability.

    He’s had a chance to progress that Sutton and Golson haven’t because he’s been available to practice and play.

  • FATCAT716

    Wow I forgot about Sutton

  • Rob H

    I obviously did a bad job of expressing what I meant.
    The OP said he didn’t know of any options beyond McCullers to cut instead of Allen, and I attempted to say that their were several better options to cut (before Allen) than “just” McCullers, meaning you could go through at least half a dozen other names before Allen’s name even became a debatable option IMO.

  • SilverSteel

    Agreed. Our depth is just a small drop off, which is a real luxury