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Hawaii 5-0
05-14-2012, 05:12 PM
Steelers Cornerbacks Bringing A New Dynamic To The Table

Monday, May 14th, 2012 by Cian Fahey

http://img0.yardbarker.com/media/3/5/357e83d8dac4b905897f03e6358124289d1d0404/medium/Pittsburgh_Steelers_2009_edec.jpg?stamp=1336752302

Prior to last season, I wrote that Keenan Lewis would add a new dynamic to the Steelers defense, even though he wasn't a full-time starter, Lewis did do that playing the outside position in the team's nickel defense. What I didn't realize at the time was that Lewis was only the first step in a certain revamping of the Steelers' style.

Over the past few years, the Pittsburgh Steelers' defense has been led by shorter more agile cornerbacks to fit their zone scheme. With players like Deshea Townsend, Bryant McFadden and William Gay on the roster, the rangy Ike Taylor was the exception rather than the rule for Steelers' cornerbacks.

Townsend, McFadden and Gay were all pivotal parts of Super Bowl teams, but limited in man coverage as the Steelers' 3-4 defense didn't ask them to play too much man coverage. The biggest difference between cornerbacks of the Steelers' recent past and the current crop of corners is their length.

Ike Taylor is the only constant between the Steelers' old cornerbacks and the current crop. Taylor stands at 6-2 and easily towered above Townsend, 5-10, Gay 5-10 and McFadden 6-0. The tallest corner out of the old guard is the same height as the shortest corners on the Steelers' current roster.

Lewis and Curtis Brown are listed at 6-0 while Cortez Allen is 6-1.

Those may seem like minimal discrepancies but can make a massive difference on the football field. This is something that stood out as quickly as last season when the Patriots arrived in Pittsburgh. During that game, Allen showed off his size and physicality to essentially shut down Rob Gronkowski. However, that was not the only notable performance that day.

That day Dick LeBeau, whether it be through injuries or choice, drastically altered the style of his defense to pressure the Patriots with his rangy cornerbacks and give his pass rushers a chance to disrupt the timing of the Patriots offense.

In the past, Tom Brady had come to Pittsburgh and easily picked apart the Steelers' zone coverage as the team's corners and safeties were slower mentally to react to Brady's quick decision making and precise throws. This year, the Steelers corners were able to focus on their assignments with greater ease because they were less complex.

The Steelers now have the personnel to play the "pick'em" defense. The idea that defenders can just point to an attacker and say "He's mine." With four cornerbacks capable of competing with receivers' size and speed, the Steelers will be better suited to play more man coverage and even shift their defenders into press coverage.

The ability to play press coverage on defense is as valuable as an established running game is to an offense. Press coverage, when done well, tightens throwing windows and disrupts the timing of routes. It takes longer for the ball to come out of the pocket giving rushers more opportunities to get into the backfield.

Most importantly however, it allows intelligent safeties to take advantage of less complex defensive schemes. It is no coincidence that Ryan Clark had one of his better years last year in the Black and Gold uniform. Clark is a very intelligent footballer and with better coverage ahead of him, and complex zone assignments, Clark was able to get to his first Pro Bowl.

The Steelers are fortunate—or rather owe an awful lot to the outstanding drafting of GM Kevin Colbert—that the new crop of corners have a lot of scheme versatility. They may not excel in zone coverage the way Deshea Townsend and Bryant McFadden did, but they are certainly better there than the old cornerbacks were at man coverage.

Watching the development of Brown and Allen in particular, as well as Lewis, next year is going to be a fascinating venture.

http://www.steelersdepot.com/2012/05/steelers-cornerbacks-bringing-a-new-dynamic-to-the-table/

pancake
05-14-2012, 05:35 PM
I didn't know this... "Lewis and Curtis Brown are listed at 6-0 while Cortez Allen is 6-1"

Just never looked at it I guess.

Galax Steeler
05-14-2012, 06:36 PM
I have high hopes for Brown I think he can be our next best corner in Pittsburgh.

Fire Arians
05-14-2012, 06:42 PM
I have high hopes for Brown I think he can be our next best corner in Pittsburgh.

he probably is the best athlete out of all of them, potential's there.

he's quick enough to cover the shifty slot wr's and his vertical leap is insane. i think he's best suited to be our nickel guy but i won't be surprised if he's eventually the #2 corner. lewis and allen will give some stiff competition though, this offseason will be interesting for both OL and CB units

http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/601582/Curtis_Brown_Combine

Kingmagyar
05-14-2012, 07:27 PM
Vertical jumps from some of our DBs and none slower the 4.51 40 times.

ike Taylor 40
Curtis Brown 39.5 -Broad jump close to 11'
Keenan Lewis 38.5 -Broad jump close to 11'
Cortez Allen 37.5 -Broad jump close to 11'
Robert Golden UDFA 37.5

All nicely athletic to hopefully play that way.

casteeler
05-15-2012, 01:20 PM
he probably is the best athlete out of all of them, potential's there.

he's quick enough to cover the shifty slot wr's and his vertical leap is insane. i think he's best suited to be our nickel guy but i won't be surprised if he's eventually the #2 corner. lewis and allen will give some stiff competition though, this offseason will be interesting for both OL and CB units

http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/601582/Curtis_Brown_Combine

That pic is amazing^^. I'm very concerned with the Steelers CB situation (who will be #2) but hopefully the coaches will have a tough job ahead choosing who is best due to amazing skill!

ebsteelers
05-15-2012, 01:58 PM
solid number 1

and 3 players who could be a quality number 2.


i like it.


big fan of cortez allen.



any chance golden sticks in the secondary?

Kingmagyar
05-15-2012, 03:25 PM
any chance golden sticks in the secondary?


Looking at youtube stuf on Robert Golden I really like his man to man skills. Seems to have a bad rap about zone playing even being called clueless by one analysis. But his man to man ability may impress the Steelers enough to use him inside but being that he's listed as a safety one must wonder if he could play zone well enough. I like what I see out of him a lot more then Terrence Frederick though and believe Golden might be a better corner then safety.

FrancoLambert
05-15-2012, 07:51 PM
Vertical jumps from some of our DBs and none slower the 4.51 40 times.

ike Taylor 40
Curtis Brown 39.5 -Broad jump close to 11'
Keenan Lewis 38.5 -Broad jump close to 11'
Cortez Allen 37.5 -Broad jump close to 11'
Robert Golden UDFA 37.5

All nicely athletic to hopefully play that way.

Let's all hope that this athleticism somehow leads to more interceptions.
Hopefully their hands are as good as their legs.

Hawaii 5-0
05-16-2012, 02:25 AM
Top 10 Position Battles to Watch in Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp

By Nick DeWitt (Featured Columnist) on May 15, 2012

http://cdn.bleacherreport.net/images_root/slides/photos/002/229/216/127882815_display_image.jpg?1337126276

Second Cornerback Combatants

Keenan Lewis, Cortez Allen, Curtis Brown

Analysis

This is going to be the battle that gets the most attention. It means the most to a defense that has always been maligned for its corner play. Many fans and analysts, including myself, didn't want William Gay back.

Now, we have to live with that reality.

Lewis has the experience. Allen and Brown have the skill sets. The battle is anyone's guess right now. Brown didn't play a defensive snap last season. That doesn't mean he's out. He was a playmaker in college.

Lewis would be the natural heir, but he is so valuable at the nickel spot that the team might want to keep him there. If that happens, two second-year players will battle to be a starter. That's a scary, but intriguing thought.

Winner

In the scenario where Lewis ascends the ladder, I'd say Brown becomes the nickel guy. If they keep Lewis in his spot, I would say that Brown wins the starting job. It's hard to ignore his ability to make big plays, something the Steelers lack at cornerback.

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1184805-top-10-position-battles-to-watch-in-pittsburgh-steelers-training-camp/page/10

Rick5895
05-16-2012, 05:42 AM
For continuity I would expect Lewis to stay at #3, being there is little or no difference between #2 and #3 anymore. I would expect brown to be the winner or Allen with Allen being groomed to take over Ike's spot when he leaves or retires.

Hawaii 5-0
05-18-2012, 04:38 PM
Steelers Release T Trevis Turner, Sign CB Andre Freeman

Friday, May 18th, 2012 by Dave Bryan

The Pittsburgh Steelers made a roster move on Friday according to Ed Bouchette on Twitter as they have released tackle Trevis Turner and signed cornerback Andre Freeman to take his place on the 90 man roster.

Turner was signed by the Steelers as an undrafted free agent last year out of Abilene Christian. While Turner did not make the 53 man roster out of training camp last season, he did make the Steelers practice squad. Following the season the Steelers signed him back to the offseason roster on a futures contract. The 6-foot-7, 330-pound Turner is the father of three sets of fraternal twins.

The Steelers had signed Kyle Jolly earlier in the week, so the number of tackles on the roster is the same at the end of the week as it was at the beginning.

Freeman is a 5 foot, 11 inch cornerback out of Slippery Rock. At his pro day in March he ran a 4.47 40 time and a 4.14 short shuttle time. He had a vertical jump of 35 inches to go along with a 10'05" broad jump. He put up 225 pounds on the bench 14 times.

http://www.steelersdepot.com/2012/05/steelers-release-t-trevis-turner-sign-cb-andre-freeman/

Hawaii 5-0
05-18-2012, 04:51 PM
Talkin' Cornerbacks: Steelers' Starting Cornerback in 2012 Not As Important as Positional Depth

by Neal Coolong on May 18, 2012

http://cdn0.sbnation.com/entry_photo_images/4074309/GYI0061437094.jpg

The Steelers depth at cornerback should be one of their strength in 2012, but it's also one of its biggest question marks.

Such is the way of things for NFL cornerbacks. Every play, hero or goat. Riding that thin line between greatness and ridicule, it is, next to quarterback, the toughest mental position on the field. The Steelers will ride into training camp with one definite starter, CB Ike Taylor, and three younger players vying for the starting spot opposite Taylor - CBs Keenan Lewis, Cortez Allen and Curtis Brown.

Who's going to start?

This is a classic position of competition. Due to the mental rigors of it, all must be challenged intensely before any "winner" can be named. It would be unwise to name one now, but expect Lewis to emerge as the starting cornerback opposite Taylor after a tough competition from emerging stud Allen.

It's almost necessary nowadays to name the nickel defensive back a starter as well, and Allen, due to his size and strength, will continue his growth as an outstanding slot defender, will hold down nickel duties.

Lewis (who turned 26 Thursday) and Allen both did well last season essentially as in-season replacements for CB Bryant McFadden, who went from starter to non-participator as 2011 went on. Both played nickel duties, Lewis on the outside when former Steelers CB William Gay shifted inside, and Allen inside in dime packages, most notably, against the high-powered Patriots offense in Week 8.

How much does the "starter" tag really matter?

I suppose it will for Lewis's upcoming contract negotiations (he'll play this season with a restricted free agency 1-year deal, and be unrestricted next year), but both he and Allen have the ability to play inside rather than outside. Lewis has the advantage of much more experience than Allen (29 games to 15, and Lewis was in on 404 snaps last year to 60 for Allen), so on one hand, it's silly to etch either of their name in stone next to "CB2." On the other, both should expect to see the field plenty often this year.

What about Brown?

Even with an increasingly impressive special teams resume, Brown just simply looks like the odd man out in a talented, young positional race. Certainly, we aren't casting him out permanently, it's only May, and it's a very long season. That's the nice part about depth at a position. Things can - and will - change.

At the very least, Brown looks like a top-end special teams gunner, and will continue to fill that kind of role in 2012.

Is this position locked up for the foreseeable future?

We've spent much time talking about the revamped offensive line, but before that, the priority investment seemed to be at cornerback. The genius part of the Steelers' previous future plan at the position was they scored big on younger players who fit a mold; tall, long and athletic. While having to fit in a guy like McFadden for transitional purposes, the Steelers drafted Lewis out of Oregon State in the third round of the 2009 draft, and Brown (Texas) in the third round, and Allen (The Citadel) in the fourth round of the 2011 draft. Mix in a swing-and-a-miss with fifth-rounder Joe Burnett in 2009, the Steelers invested just as heavily in cornerback as they recently have in offensive line, just without the big-time dollar amount or height of picks. The amount of money they've saved in building quality depth as opposed to giving out massive contracts to free agents like Nnamdi Asomugha has been more than beneficial, and it's something that will continue for the next few years.

Lewis could be the starter in 2012. Allen could be as well. With Lewis set to hit free agency, they have flexibility in the sense he's not an absolute must-sign (at this point anyway).

Also, they all are really system guys; physical, big zone corners (with the ability to play man, just not a ton of tape to show potential free agent suitors) with athleticism. It's the Steelers' defense's highest value position on the roster - most talent for the least amount of money.

They're going to reap the benefits of their investment in 2012.

http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/5/18/3028240/steelers-2012-roster-cornerback-depth-chart-keenan-lewis-starting-cortez-allen-curtis-brown#storyjump

Hawaii 5-0
05-21-2012, 02:51 PM
Curtis Brown Proved Worth On Special Teams As A Rookie

Monday, May 21st, 2012 by Dave Bryan

Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Curtis Brown didn't see any snaps on the defensive side of the football as a rookie, but he did contribute quite a bit on special teams, a necessity for all young defensive players drafted by Pittsburgh.

Football Outsiders released their 2011 Special Teams Tackles Stats on Monday and Brown finished 11th on their list with 14 return tackles, of which 10 were regarded as stops. A stop, as defined by FO, is when a coverage player made it downfield to get a tackle (or assist) that stopped a return for less-than-average value. The stop rate for Brown was 71%.

Keep in mind that Brown only played in 12 games as a rookie as he was inactive week one against the Baltimore Ravens and he missed the remaining three games of the season last year due to a knee injury which eventually led to him being placed on injured reserve. That means that the rookie out of Texas averaged over one return tackle a game and nearly one stop a game. Had he played all 16 games, he likely would have finished in the top five easily.

Brown was regarded as a special teams demon while at Texas where he recorded 35 career special-teams tackles. He certainly has lived up to that billing thus far with the Steelers.

Not to be left out in the recent rankings is safety Ryan Mundy, who just made the list with 12 return tackles of which 6 were considered stops.

Brown had his meniscus repaired after being placed on injured reserve and by all reports is ready to pick up where he left off last season. He figures to compete for the starting nickel cornerback role this offseason and he will certainly be a fixture on special teams once again.

http://www.steelersdepot.com/2012/05/curtis-brown-proved-worth-on-special-teams-as-a-rookie/