October 29, 2014
by Mark Kaboly
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Cortez Allen was benched once.
Now, it appears that the $26 million man is being benched again – this time for real.
Allen went from an owner of a new multi-million dollar contract the day before the start of the season to being pushed out of his starting position by Brice McCain and now to the bench by Antwon Blake.
Let that sink in for a minute – Cortez Allen lost his starting job to Brice McCain and now forced to the bench by Antwon Blake.
It hasn’t been a particularly good couple months for what the Steelers thought was their shutdown cornerback of the future.
Allen now will likely be relegated to standing on the sidelines come Sunday against Baltimore. William Gay will start at right corner and Brice McCain at left corner. When the Steelers go to their nickel package, Blake will take McCain’s spot and McCain will move to the slot corner.
“From the looks of things right now that’s how it is going to be,” Blake said following practice on Wednesday. “Things change during the week so we see how it goes.”
Blake replaced Allen in the nickel on the final series of last week’s game against the Colts. Blake intercepted Colts quarterback Andrew Luck in the end zone late in the fourth quarter for his first career pick.
Mike Tomlin said at the time that he made the switch because he felt it was necessary for them to win the game. Tomlin also has maintained his confidence in Allen, but knows that Allen’s recent play has forced an alternative plan to be put into action.
Allen has allowed 34 receptions and NFL-high five touchdowns including two last week against the Colts. He’s been called for a league-high nine penalties as well.
“He’s just got to fight through it,” Ike Taylor said. “That’s the life of a cornerback. Everybody goes through it. I went through it. Deucey (No. 22, William Gay) went through it. Now, he’s going through it. He’s got to fight his way out. Playing corner, we’ve all got the physical attributes. But he’s got to be mentally tough. That’s the only way that you’re going to fight yourself out of that. So, he’s got to show that.”
Taylor was benched by Bill Cowher in 2006 with six regular season games remaining. He eventually got his starting job back for the season finale against Cincinnati.
“He’s got to show, week in and week out, practice after practice,” Taylor said. “What I always tell my guys at corner is that you’ve got to be honest with yourself. There is no gray area when you play corner. Either you’re getting the job done or you’re not. So, once you establish that, everything else comes easy.”
Until then, it’s Blake’s chance, and it couldn’t come at a more critical and difficult time. The Steelers play the Ravens on Sunday, who feature receivers Torrey Smith and Steve Smith Sr.
“We are going to basically stay on our sides,” Blake said. “Whoever comes to my side is who I am going to get. I am going to have to bring everything out of the toolbox and be very technical this game. Anytime you get your number called you want to make a play for your team. You thank God you are put in position to do so.”
And as always, check out the Kaboly Show Podcast. Great Steelers talk …