When the Pittsburgh Steelers allowed last year’s starting cornerback Keenan Lewis to leave for the New Orleans Saints as a free agent, all eyes were looking at Cortez Allen to step up and man the spot opposite Ike Taylor.
Things haven’t exactly played out that way for Allen and the Steelers.
I must say that when the Steelers signed William Gay in the offseason I wasn’t thrilled. It’s not that Gay was terrible in his first stint in black-and-gold, but the thoughts on Gay as the No. 2 corner were terrifying.
I didn’t mind the move in terms of depth, but no way did I think the Steelers could survive if Gay were pressed into every down duty.
But the past two weeks, Gay has answered all of his critics to the point that his signing looks like a great move from Steelers’ general manager Kevin Colbert.
It’s all about a player taking advantage of an opportunity.
When Allen hurt his knee early in training camp, it gave the veteran Gay the chance to move into an every down role, a role Gay assumed for most of the season so far with Allen hurting his ankle in the season opener.
Gay, along with everyone else in the Steelers secondary, had some problems in the Steelers’ 0-4 start.
But the past two weeks you can make the case that Gay has played the best football of his career and is proving to be more than just a depth piece in the Steelers defensive backfield.
He was at his best on Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens and made two huge plays breaking up potential touchdown passes. Yes, gay did get beat initially on the plays but found a way to make a play nonetheless.
That’s refreshing alone from a defense that has had trouble even making the simple plays the past two seasons.
One thing Gay has accomplished is the fact that he now gives the team confidence in his abilities.
He’s no longer a guy who will get beaten for seven or eight catches during the course of a game, but the team should be confident in his abilities to handle the opposition’s No. 2 receiver on any occasion.
In the midst of the Steelers roller coaster start to the season, Gay’s steady play may be something that could go overlooked.
Is this something that can continue?
I’m not ready to go that far just yet, but I have a lot more confidence in him than I did at the start of the season.
On a team that lacks quality depth at almost every position, the trio of Taylor, Allen and Gay are turning out to be pretty decent at the cornerback position.