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Old 12-06-2012, 08:56 AM   #1
Fire Haley

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Default Youngsters Allen, Brown stepping in for Taylor

The seeds for a rivalry between Curtis Brown and Cortez Allen were planted early. Selected one round apart by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2011 NFL draft, the cornerbacks found themselves fighting for playing time - and a roster spot - on a defense that isn't the easiest to learn.

Brown, a third-round pick, played at Texas. Allen, who went a round later, played at The Citadel, far from the bright lights of big-time college football. Coach Mike Tomlin admits he ''pitted'' the two youngsters against one another much the way he did with wide receivers Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders, separated by 113 picks in the 2010 draft.

The ploy worked, kind of. While the cornerbacks admit they're better off for having to compete with the other, there is no blood feud, no looking over each other's shoulder to see what the other is doing.

''He's probably my closest friend on the team,'' Allen said. The fact the Steelers initially rated Curtis Brown a little higher never comes up, perhaps because both players know it's irrelevant. They were selected to be teammates, though that hasn't stopped Tomlin from using the ''two dogs, one bone'' metaphor to try to help them bring out the best in each other. While they have, that competitiveness doesn't carry over off the field.

''We chill every day,'' Brown said. ''We hang out together in the offseason. We're in it for the long run.'' One that's starting a little sooner than planned. Allen and Brown will see extensive playing time when the Steelers (7-5) take on San Diego (4-8) Sunday without veteran cornerback Ike Taylor for the first time in eight years.

Taylor is out at least two weeks with a fractured right ankle, leaving Pittsburgh's top-ranked pass defense very young and more than a little fired up. ''I take the approach that you should always be prepared,'' Allen said. ''I was ready for this and I feel like the coaching staff and my teammates are confident in me to get the job done.''

The bigger, bulkier Allen - who at 6-foot-1 and 196 pounds is an inch taller and 11 pounds heavier than Brown - will start at cornerback then slide into his usual nickel spot in passing situations while Brown replaces him on the outside. It's a setup both feel plays to their strengths. Brown feels more comfortable going one-on-one on the outside, where quickness and instincts can overcome mistakes, while Allen's cerebral approach makes him a perfect fit for the sometimes complex coverage assignments.

''I'm just trying to make a name for myself at corner,'' Brown said. He's already on his way. Brown didn't have time to get nervous last Sunday when Taylor went out in the first quarter. He suddenly found himself thrust into a critical spot in the most important game of the season. Don't think the Ravens didn't notice, targeting Brown twice on third downs shortly after he came onto the field. Both plays ended up with incompletions in the Steelers' 23-20 win. ''They cooled off after a while,'' Brown said. ''They tried me the first two third downs and they weren't successful. ... They didn't throw much at me after that.''

Allen's start proved rockier. Baltimore wide receiver Anquan Boldin lit him up several times in the first half as the Ravens moved the ball with relative ease as Baltimore eased to a 13-6 lead. Getting picked on didn't tighten Allen up. If anything, it helped him relax. ''The new guy, yeah, (teams) try to go at him,'' Allen said. ''It's something you have to be ready for. Every down you play, you have to play like it's coming to you. I was ready for it and expecting it and I accept that challenge.''

So does fourth-year cornerback Keenan Lewis, who suddenly finds himself the elder statesman. Lewis has provided a sounding board for both Allen and Brown, maybe it's because he's used to being considered the weaker link with Taylor on the other side of the field. There's a reason Lewis is tied for the NFL lead in passes defensed: Teams would prefer to throw at him than Taylor.

He persevered much the same way the kids lining up next to him Sunday will have to endure against one of the league's biggest receiving corps. Then again, being relatively anonymous isn't exactly a bad thing.

When asked what he knew about Allen and Brown, San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers just laughed. ''Not a ton obviously,'' Rivers said. ''I know it's a confident group of guys that stepped up in the game and played there in Baltimore and won.''

Something the two young cornerbacks know is the standard in Pittsburgh no matter who is on the field. There will be times when it's just one of them out there. They're fine with it, knowing when the time comes, they have each other's back. ''The `two dogs, one bone thing,' that's a Coach T thing,'' Brown said. ''We're just working every day.''




Ike Taylor vows to be back sooner rather than later

Taylor said on his weekly TribLive Radio show to “don’t trip, I’ll be back ASAP and that’s with a capital A, S, A, P. I’ll be back sooner than later, that’s for sure.”

“My status, I don’t like my status but it happens, things happen,” Taylor said. “I have to recover and get better and get back out there as soon as possible.”

Taylor explained what happened on his show.

“I broke up the play and when I tried to get up, I got up on my left foot then I tried to put pressure on my right foot, I was like ‘Man, something ain’t right,’” Taylor said. “Then I was like this is about to go away. I waited a second and tried to put my pressure on it and it was like ‘Man, something ain’t right.’ I kind of hobbled off and told the trainers to tape my ankle up real tight, as tight as you can. I walked on it and the more I walked on it, it wasn’t getting any better. Something wasn’t right.”

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Old 12-06-2012, 11:06 PM   #2
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Default Re: Youngsters Allen, Brown stepping in for Taylor

Crucial roles await Steelers’ Allen, Brown

Steelers cornerback Cortez Allen (28) will be asked to pick up the slack in the secondary

By Mark Kaboly
Published: Wednesday, December 5, 2012

When the Steelers drafted cornerbacks Cortez Allen and Curtis Brown in back-to-back rounds last year, they were clearly trying to solidify the position for the future.

Well, the future is now.

Ike Taylor will miss his first game in eight years Sunday when the Steelers host San Diego, giving Allen his first career start and opening the door for Brown to see his first extended action in the Steelers’ sub-package.

While the Chargers and quarterback Philip Rivers may view it as a decisive advantage, the Steelers are approaching it as a vital opportunity.

“I think everybody’s itching to see what they’re going to do anyway,” Steelers nose tackle Casey Hampton said. “It’s unfortunate with Ike, but those young guys are kind of coming. I know I am for sure interested in how they’re going to play.”

Allen has played nearly 50 percent of the defensive snaps this year. The majority of them have come in the slot at nickel back, but he has seen limited action at cornerback — except for last week, when he filled in for the injured Taylor.

Allen will move back to his familiar slot in the nickel, with Brown taking over at cornerback.

“This is something you look forward in doing as a football player with the thoughts of one day being a starter,” Allen said. “This is a good test for me, a big test for me to show that I can handle the job. I am ready for this. I am confident.”

Allen was picked on by Baltimore last week, and he had varying degrees of success. He was targeted 12 times and had three pass defenses, but he allowed six catches for 89 yards and a touchdown and was hit with a pass interference penalty.

Brown might be who the Chargers decide to go after. He’s played only 31 defensive snaps in his two years, with 16 of those coming last week after Taylor’s injury. Brown has played almost exclusively on special teams during his first two years.

That’s one of the reasons Brown feels that the Chargers are going to play a lot of multiple receiver sets and force the Steelers into their nickel package.

“Obviously, yes,” Brown said about the Chargers possibly targeting him. “I haven’t played as much as the other guys this season. I feel that they will test me early, but I just have to stand up to that challenge.”

Top cornerback Keenan Lewis, who played the same role last year that Brown will play against the Chargers, has confidence that Brown won’t be targeted after a couple of plays.

“They will try to see who is who and what he’s got,” Lewis said. “But they are going to recognize real fast that they can play.”

Allen added: “Like Coach Tomlin says, the ball keeps rolling.”

2015 NFL Sig Mock Draft:

2 trades: our 1(22) to Dallas for 1(27) and 3(91), then our 2(56) and 3(87) to NY Giants for 2(40)

1(27) Kevin Johnson CB Wake Forest
2(40) Eli Harold OLB Virginia
3(91) Eric Rowe CB/FS Utah
4(121) Gabe Wright DT/DE Auburn
5(160) Sean Hickey OG/OT Syracuse
6(199) Titus Davis WR C Michigan
6(212) Kyle Emanuel DE/OLB N Dakota St
7(239) Cameron Clear TE/OT Texas A&M
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Old 12-06-2012, 11:38 PM   #3
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Default Re: Youngsters Allen, Brown stepping in for Taylor

I think we will be fine woth these kids. They have both played well. Brown has had some struggles on special teams but played well last week as the nickel CB. I'm anxious to see them play and watch the D step up and support them.
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Old 12-06-2012, 11:54 PM   #4
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Default Re: Youngsters Allen, Brown stepping in for Taylor

dudes got hops
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