It used to be Ike Taylor shadowed the Steelers' perception of who the opponent's top receiver was in each game.
That isn't the case so much anymore, but it's still something Steelers cornerback Cortez Allen wants to be able to do at some point in his career.
So he's learning from Taylor himself.
Steelers.com writer Mike Prisuta sat down with Allen recently, picking his brain and collecting his thoughts on his career to this point.
"Ike’s done it before me," Allen told Prisuta. "Hopefully, one day I’ll be in that position to be the level of player that he is. It’s a day-by-day process. I’m just trying to learn as much as I can from him and the guys around me."
A learning experience is a fair way to categorize Allen's 2013 season. After a rough start to the year that hit a low point after multiple blown tackles in a loss to Minnesota, Allen found himself not as Taylor's heir apparent, but a sub package cornerback - a step in the wrong direction for a player thought to be a future foundation member of this defense.
The high point of his season came on his first career touchdown, a pass from Packers quarterback Matt Flynn, a botched audible he made in his presnap read.
The Packers had been nickel-and-diming Allen the whole game, testing his tackling ability. He could have played better overall, but Flynn's poor handle of the snap combined with a wobbly, weak throw gave Allen his chance to pounce. He broke up the pass, and caught the rebound, running untouched for what ended up being a critical score in a tight game.
It gave the Steelers their second consecutive victory over a team that would end up being a division champion. They came an overtime loss by Kansas City to San Diego away from making the playoffs after an 0-4 start.
Allen's future is bright, but he's still got work to do. That's a challenge he's ready to accept.
"Being able to keep your mind-set on what you need to get done and then if you attack those things, you’ll be all right," Allen said. "But you’re going to go through ups and downs, and it’s expected."
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