The Pittsburgh Steelers re-signed Will Allen in the offseason as an insurance policy. When Troy Polamalu retired in the offseason, the vacant strong safety job would then go to third year safety Shamarko Thomas. Allen would be the safety net for the organization if Thomas was unable to perform up to the team's standards and expectations.
As it turns out, the team is looking to cash in on their insurance policy with Allen at safety. It is being reported by Dale Lolley of the Washington Observer-Reporter Allen will get the start at strong safety Thursday when the team goes to Foxborough to play the New England Patriots.
Will Allen will start at ss for #Steelers— Dale Lolley (@dlolleyor) September 6, 2015
Thomas' play throughout the 2015 preseason has been a roller coaster of quality plays combined with head scratching mistakes. Allen provides a veteran presence in the back half of the secondary, and despite his ability to make some of the plays Thomas can make in run support, Allen won't make as many mistakes as the inexperienced Thomas.
Thomas' mistakes haven't just been of the mental variety, but the physical ones as well. To compound such an issue, the mistakes Thomas have made have turned into big plays for the opposition. Thomas was the only starting defender to see significant repetitions against the Carolina Panthers in the preseason finale, and on one particular play Thomas took a bad angle at the running back which resulted in a 49-yard touchdown run for the Panthers.
This isn't to suggest Thomas won't play. There is a good chance he will be deployed in sub packages, as well as being a large part of the team's special teams throughout 2015. On a defense which has given up a lot of big plays throughout the preseason, playing the veteran Allen is a wise decision for a unit simply trying to stay in games and let their potent offense out score opponents.