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Will Brian Allen factor into the Steelers’ cornerback battle next season?

Will Brian Allen be more than just a special teams player next season, or will he be pushing for a role on defense?

Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers

When it comes to the cornerback position with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Brian Allen has something no one else does — size.

Standing at 6-foot-3, Allen doesn’t just have size. He also has speed, running the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds. When reading this you might be thinking, “Why isn’t this guy on the football field?” Well, the converted wide receiver is what football experts call ‘raw’.

The Steelers have selected plenty of “raw” prospects in the secondary throughout the Mike Tomlin/Kevin Colbert era, but one thing separated Allen from players like Doran Grant — the Steelers kept Allen around for a reason.

Grant, among others, was released before cutting the roster to 53 players, but the team saw something they really liked about Allen and didn’t want him grabbed off of the waiver wire. With a year under his belt playing primarily special teams, will Allen be ready for the next step in 2018?

“I feel like my game has gone from wherever everybody had me (at the time of the draft) to a big jump now,” Allen told Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “So I feel like going into next season – while there’s still a lot to improve on – I’m ready to make that jump and show the coaches what I can do and really help the team not only on special teams but as well on defense.”

After a season where he saw plenty of games from the sideline in street clothes, Allen still sees the 2017 season as a success.

“Those times when I was inactive, it was definitely hard because I wanted to be out there playing with the guys,” Allen said. “Because I am a competitor – what guys wouldn’t want to be out there? But at the end of the day, it’s all about winning. When I was inactive, we were winning games. And when we would lose when I was inactive, I was still right there for my brothers no matter what. But looking back on it, it was a successful season.”

How could it be considered a success? Try guarding Antonio Brown and/or Martavis Bryant every day at practice. Yeah, that will certainly sharpen your skills.

“Those two are two totally different guys, so seeing both aspects of it, it definitely helps you improve your game,” he said. “Martavis is one of those guys who is going to stretch you down the field, so I can use my length and my speed in that way to develop. And ‘AB’ is more a quicker guy who runs good routes, and that helps me develop more getting in and out of my breaks, dropping low – he’s a smaller guy; I’m a taller guy. Going against all those different types of guys has definitely helped me improve my game a lot.”

Regardless of what everyone else thinks about the hierarchy among the cornerbacks, Allen is going to keep his head down and keep grinding, hoping the work he put in will pay off in the long run.

“Now that my first season is over, I’m just looking down the line, ‘Just keep progressing, hopefully end up getting a starting job or getting more playing time as it goes.’ Right now, I’m not pressing; it’s coaches’ decision, so I am going to just sit back and play my role.”

Now it is time to check in on the news surrounding the black-and-gold outside the walls of BTSC:

During the past quarter-century, it’s been arguably the most high-profile defensive position on a franchise that’s associated with defense: outside linebacker.

But the Steelers face quite a few decisions at outside linebacker going forward.

Of the four players at the position who finished the season on the Steelers’ 53-man roster, three are free agents and another is due a huge contract option to be exercised for 2019.

”Truly, at the end of the day it could and may only be me and T.J. (Watt) left in the room (in 2018),” Bud Dupree said. “So we will have to see what is going on.”

New England failed in its bid to win a sixth Super Bowl on Sunday. That would have tied the Patriots for most all-time with the Steelers. (Green Bay has 13 NFL championships. Ignore that. Nine of those weren’t “super.”)

But even as the Steelers gobbled down that measly morsel, they had to deal with crushing heartache.

The Steelers made the final four of’s “Celebration of the Year” bracket. Rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster choreographed the “hide and seek” routine, scored the touchdown, played the “seeker” and campaigned for votes on social media just 72 hours after the Steelers got ousted by Jacksonville.

It must have been difficult to tweet through the tears.

The Steers have added Blaine Stewart, son of late West Virginia football coach Bill Stewart, as a coaching assistant.

Stewart completed his studies at the University of Charleston, where he earned his MBA and played as a wide receiver on the football team. Stewart was an undergraduate at James Madison, where he was a two-year letterwinner.

Bill Stewart, who died of a heart attack in May 2012, gave Steelers coach Mike Tomlin his first coaching job at VMI. Tomlin has remained close to the Stewart family.

“Blaine definitely has the skill set to be a great coach,” Charleston coach Pat Kirkland told the State Journal (W.Va.) last year. “When you couple that with the amount of people his dad worked with, it’s going to open a lot of opportunities for Blaine to get his foot in the door, coaching-wise. His dad was instrumental in so many people’s careers.”