The Pittsburgh Steelers finished another week of OTAs and knock on wood, there were no major injuries. For coaches and fans alike, that is one of the biggest concerns during this period. Ironically, here in Pittsburgh, for the first time in years, these OTAs are taking a backseat to the playoff push by the Pittsburgh Penguins and the early season success by the upstart Pittsburgh Pirates.William Gay (Arizona Cardinals) and draft Illinois cornerback Terry Hawthorne, but neither are slated to replace Lewis in 2013. That job should fall to Cortez Allen.
Allen has developed nicely since the Steelers drafted him out of The Citadel. In 2012, the second-year corner came on and was one of the more consistent members of the secondary, both inside on the slot or outside when given the chance to start after injuries took out starter Ike Taylor.
Opposite Allen, Taylor should return from his injury-plagued season and continue to play at a high level. The veteran of the unit, Taylor is a leader and dynamic cornerback. Unfortunately, due to his lack of hands, he often goes unnoticed across the league due to his lack of interceptions, but as many across the NFL know, when healthy, he can be a shutdown corner.
Gay should fill the role that Allen took over in 2012, playing the nickel role over the slot. While he was not a hit with the Cardinals, his experience in the Steelers defensive schemes should allow him to pick up where he left off before departing for Arizona following the 2011 season.
Hawthorne, Curtis Brown and DeMarcus Van Dyke should be battling for the final two spots at cornerback and their special teams attributes will go a long way in the decision. Hawthorne is athletic, and should have every chance to make the roster after being drafted in the fifth round of the 2013 NFL Draft. His preseason performance in coverage will make this decision easier.
Both Brown and Van Dyke seemed to struggle in coverage in 2012, and Van Dyke struggled on special teams before ending the season on injured reserve. Brown, who the Steelers selected ahead of Allen should have the inside track, but Van Dyke has that attribute you cannot coach, speed. In the end, this will be one of the best competitions in training camp.
The Steelers will keep five cornerbacks for depth and special teams purposes.
Over the next few weeks, Steelers101 will break down every position, highlight training camp battles and eventually have the complete 53-man roster as we see it today.
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