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Old 12-08-2011, 05:59 AM   #1
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Default It's a rookie battle

It's a rookie battle
Steelers CB Cortez Allen vs. Browns WR Greg Little
Thursday, December 08, 2011
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Steelers pulled an old trick from their defensive playbook against the Cincinnati Bengals when they used four cornerbacks and only one safety in their nickel package -- replacing veteran safety Ryan Clark with rookie cornerback Cortez Allen.

The scheme is something defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau uses when the opposing team employs four or more wide receivers or uses three wide receivers with a good receiving tight end.

The Steelers may not have to worry about that tonight against the Cleveland Browns. They are having a hard time finding just one receiver.

"Everybody can't do it," Clark said. "I'm not sure Cincinnati should actually do it, if it actually helps them. Just because you have four [receivers] to put out there doesn't mean it's the best thing for you. But the game is just moving toward that."

The Steelers had not used that special nickel package since Super Bowl XLV against the Green Bay Packers, but they trotted it out against the Bengals and used it with great success.

Rookie wide receiver A.J. Green had six catches for 87 yards, including a 43-yard catch and an 11-yard touchdown. But the Steelers held the Bengals other three receivers -- Jerome Simpson, Andre Caldwell and Andrew Hawkins -- to just one catch for 8 yards.

"I felt like the four people we had covering were better than the four people they had out there," Clark said. "And that's what it ended up proving to be."

The idea, LeBeau said, is to use an extra cornerback -- in this case, Allen, their fourth-round draft pick -- instead of a safety because "it's speed on speed. They run faster."

Allen has progressed so quickly that LeBeau has no hesitation using him in any of their pass-defense packages.

"Ever since the New England game, he's been in our plans," LeBeau said. "He delivered. There's a lot of football in front of him. He's just a beginning player, but he's done a good job when we put him in the game."

The Browns top receiver, Mohamed Massaquoi, has dropped to No. 5 on their depth chart and missed the past two games with a concussion. Joshua Cribbs is having his best receiving season as a professional -- 29 catches, 358 yards and 4 touchdowns -- but he has not been targeted the past two games. He has been observed spending more time at pregame tailgates than catching passes from quarterback Colt McCoy.

That has created room for rookie Greg Little, their second-round pick, to emerge as the leading receiver with 50 catches and 513 yards. But Little has six drops in the past two games -- one of the reasons the Browns lead the league in drops (40).

The Steelers have not allowed a 100-yard receiver in the past 17 games, despite facing the likes of Pierre Garcon, Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson, Wes Welker, Dwayne Bowe and A.J. Green, though Johnson and Green had games ended by injuries. And they have held four of the past five quarterbacks they have faced under 200 yards passing. That is why they rank No. 1 in total defense, No. 2 against the pass, in the NFL.
Gerry Dulac: gdulac@post-gazette.com; twitter: @gerrydulac

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11342...#ixzz1fwZJeDM1
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Old 12-08-2011, 08:27 AM   #2
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Default Re: It's a rookie battle

What's hard to believe is how little football Allen has actually played and how well he is doing. He is an EXTREMELY intelligent kid (as per all reports) and a hell of an athlete. To step into our D with no training camp and play the way he has is nothing less than remarkable. I look forward to watching this whole rookie class grow. If all pans out we may look at the last 2 drafts with many players to be proud of. Colbert and the scouts deserve a ton of credit here.
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Old 12-08-2011, 09:28 AM   #3
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Default Re: It's a rookie battle

Its what we will have to do to beat Green Bay or New England if we face them again. Man to man coverage disrupt the timing patterns off the line and put Rodgers/Brady in the dirt a few times and it changes the game.
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Old 12-08-2011, 10:48 AM   #4
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Default Re: It's a rookie battle

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Originally Posted by Myounger55 View Post
What's hard to believe is how little football Allen has actually played and how well he is doing. He is an EXTREMELY intelligent kid (as per all reports) and a hell of an athlete. To step into our D with no training camp and play the way he has is nothing less than remarkable. I look forward to watching this whole rookie class grow. If all pans out we may look at the last 2 drafts with many players to be proud of. Colbert and the scouts deserve a ton of credit here.
i was thinking the same thing, allen must be an extremely smart kid if he's getting this much play time in his rookie season. it's not very common that lebeau will throw a kid out there in his rookie season, but he's doing that with allen, and with confidence he won't screw up.
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Old 12-08-2011, 03:34 PM   #5
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Default Re: It's a rookie battle

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i was thinking the same thing, allen must be an extremely smart kid if he's getting this much play time in his rookie season. it's not very common that lebeau will throw a kid out there in his rookie season, but he's doing that with allen, and with confidence he won't screw up.
I remember Joe Burnett out there a few times
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Old 12-08-2011, 03:41 PM   #6
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I remember Joe Burnett out there a few times
yeah but wasn't that mainly due to injury to mcfadden? this time lebeau is playing him because he beat someone else for the spot
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