Cortez Allen's surgery is unfortunate, it may be a twist that allows for some unseen positive developments this season. Allen will only miss a couple of weeks in the preseason, according to Mike Tomlin, which means the rest of the cornerbacks in training camp are elevated on the depth chart for at least a preseason game or two.
While William Gay would be the presumed starter in replacement of Allen due to his experience with the team, this may be a great time for the Steelers to press their less established cornerbacks at camp. Curtis Brown, a former third round draft pick that has been on the team as long as Cortez Allen, is currently on the hot seat. He has not shown much with his play in Pittsburgh, and has been victimized on numerous occasions throughout 2012 specifically. It is at least reasonable to suggest that Brown could seize this opportunity to flash his potential while Allen recovers so that he can have a solidified position on the Pittsburgh depth chart.
However Brown is not the only young cornerback on the Steelers roster despite injuries to DeMarcus Van Dyke and Justin King. Josh Victorian, who was called into action last season against Dallas, has just as much an opportunity as Brown to prove himself as a viable option for the Pittsburgh pass defense. He is young and his game experience from last season could provide him an advantage in camp.
In addition, the Steelers have other young prospects at the position that are being worked on. Rookie Terry Hawthorne was this year's 5th round draft pick and his six-foot frame may be developed into another piece of the defensive puzzle that consistently ranks among the NFL's elite.
Recent signings of Isaiah Green and Ryan Steed also will have more opportunities to fight for a spot on the 53-man roster. Greene, an undrafted free agent (UDFA) from 2012 signed with the Steelers after unsuccessful stints on the practice squads of the Buffalo Bills and the Tennessee Titans. Despite having a 4.29 40-yard dash time, he has yet to find a place in the NFL; but maybe with former Fresno State teammate Chris Carter on the team, Green will finally find a home.
Steed is also a UDFA signed in 2012, who was waived by two teams, the New York Jets and the New Orleans Saints.
Intriguing though, is another recent signing of Buddy Jackson, the former Pittsburgh Panther. Jackson was unable to find a place with the Kansas City Chiefs, but his 6-foot-1-inch frame may be useful in pairing him up against tight ends in spread formations. This was how Cortez Allen made an early impact in his career as he is the same height as Jackson.
The point is that Allen's injury is a temporary window of opportunity that every Steelers cornerback outside of Ike Taylor needs to use in order to show their true potential for this team. Preseason is specifically for these competitions to take place so the 53-man roster can be finalized for the regular season. It will be interesting to see if anyone proves themselves in that time.
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