When looking at the Pittsburgh Steelers roster for the 2013 season, to compete for a division title, several Steelers that played small roles in 2012 will have to have breakout seasons.
One of those players needs to be cornerback Cortez Allen.
There isn’t much corner depth in the Steelers secondary and the loss of Keenan Lewis will certainly hurt. How much it hurts will depend on Allen.
The Steelers did sign William Gay during the offseason, but if we know what he is capable of and if the Steelers need him to be a starter, well they are in trouble. However if Allen can lock down the job opposite Ike Taylor and Gay can play as a nickel back, suddenly things look a little bit better.
Of course that is a big if for a guy who has played a very small role during his first two seasons in a Steelers uniform.
But the third-year pro out of The Citadel has the opportunity to do so and is following a similar path that Lewis did prior to his departure.
As a rookie, Allen learned the defense and spent most of his time on special teams.
Last season he played more of a role in passing situations, often being on the field in nickel and dime situations. He responded with 55 tackles and a pair of interceptions in 15 games played.
Now in that third year, it’s time for him to man a starting position.
If that story sounds familiar, it’s that way with most Steelers corners, as they handle them the same way. By year three they should be ready to step in and contribute in a big way.
There are doubts to whether Allen is good enough to handle the challenge.
But the Steelers are showing great faith in him. If he’s up to it, expect big things in 2013.