LeBeau: '(Cortez Allen) Is Our Nickel (Cornerback)'

CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 13: Cortez Allen #28 of the Pittsburgh Steelers uses any means possible to tackle Andrew Hawkins #16 of the Cincinnati Bengals during play at Paul Brown Stadium on November 13, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Steelers won 24-17. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Any remaining question about who the Steelers nickel cornerback will be this season was answered by Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau in a 1-on-1 interview with Steel City Insider publisher Jim Wexell.

The interview, transcribed on SCI Sunday morning, discusses in-depth the Steelers' defense from a higher level perspective throughout training camp.

Wexell asked LeBeau about the frequency of usage of the nickel package, wondering if that had become the team's base defensive formation.

"We've got a young nickel that we're training and he got some good snaps, particularly in the first half. We're getting a lot of good nickel snaps up here against our offense. It's good. You can never get too much."

Wexell followed it up by asking if LeBeau was speaking about NT Steve McLendon and CB Cortez Allen when he spoke of the "young nickel" package.

"Yeah, I'm talking about Cortez Allen. He's our nickel (cornerback)."

Allen was the odds-on favorite to win the position in training camp over fellow second-year CB Curtis Brown, and it appears at least for now, that's how it has played out.

The larger point here goes into what LeBeau said in the interview about the team having essentially 14 defensive starters. With the amount of snaps the defense takes in its nickel package, the nickel back as well as the substitute lineman are essentially starters. It's likely McLendon would be in on the nickel anyway, due to his pass rushing skills, but he may end up being in both the base defense as well, depending on NT Casey Hampton's health and conditioning.


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