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Texans vs. Steelers: Brice McCain to start over Cortez Allen at cornerback

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Allen, the recipient of a long-term contract extension this off-season, is replaced by a player who once wilted under the expectations of a similar contract extension.

David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn't long ago Steelers cornerback Brice McCain was rising quickly in Houston's outstanding defense. It was 2011, the Texans were arguably the league's best defensive team and McCain was one of the better slot defenders in the league.

Whatever happened, happened. The Texans' defense fell apart during the next two seasons and eventually would own the league's worst record after the 2013 season. As one of the changes wrought by the new coaching staff that emerged in Houston, the Texans parted ways with McCain in March 2014. He found his way to Pittsburgh and began something of a redemption project.

McCain will start Monday when the Steelers take on his former team, in place of a cornerback who may be starting something of a similar trip.

The Steelers signed Cortez Allen to a contract extension before the 2014 season and he hasn't performed well since then. Allen will not start in his first game since 2012, a marked regression for the player the Steelers see as their future top cornerback.

But he has been anything but that this season. Targeted often, and frequently seen playing well off of receivers when they make their catches, Allen looks lost, a shell of the player who once carried so much promise.

The reclamation project of Brice McCain takes a step forward while the long-term investment in Cortez Allen looks decidedly worse than it once did. Two different players now going in two different career directions.