The Pittsburgh Steelers have an extra day to prepare for their Monday Night Football match-up against the Cincinnati Bengals. In many ways, that extra day could not come at a better time as they are already a battered football team. In fact, there will likely be three new starters when they kick-off this critical early season battle.Cortez Allen, who on Saturday was ruled out due to his ankle injury. Allen was all over the field once he was able to return from an off-season knee injury and appeared poised to seize control of the starting cornerback role opposite Ike Taylor. Unfortunately, he has not been able to stay healthy to this point.
Allen was so impressive at the end of the 2012 campaign, that the Steelers did not even make an offer to unrestricted free agent cornerback Keenan Lewis, who was the starter opposite Taylor in 2012. Still mastering cornerback techniques after playing for the Citadel, he proved as the nickel back last season to be a playmaker on defense. More importantly, he appeared to have a knack at forcing turnovers, something the Steelers defense has lacked in the two previous seasons.
Like starters Larry Foote and Maurkice Pouncey, Allen injured his ankle during the Steelers Week 1 loss to the Tennessee Titans. While his injury was not season ending, he was not able to take part in any practice session during the week and was ruled out after the teams’ final workout on Saturday. Veteran cornerback William Gay will start in his place.
Allen is not the only injury to the secondary that may be causing the team to shuffle their line-up, cornerback Curtis Brown is listed as doubtful after missing practice time this week with an illness, although he was able to practice on a limited basis on Saturday. With Allen out and Gay moving into the starting line-up, rookie fourth-round pick safety Shamarko Thomas will take over in the nickel back role. Thomas has seen action in the slot throughout training camp and preseason and should be at least a physical presence.
The Steelers also announced that running back Le’Veon Bell (foot) and tight end Heath Miller (knee) have been ruled out against the Bengals. At this point, neither player has a definitive timeframe for their return. Miller has been able to take part in practice on a limited basis in Week 2, after missing all of training camp and preseason rehabbing his reconstructed knee.
Nose tackle Steve McLendon (hamsting) and kick Shaun Suisham (hamstring) are both probable for the Monday night match-up and should be able to play. Both players have practiced fully at the end of the week and appear ready to hold down their spots. If they cannot go or suffer a setback nose tackle Hebron Fangupo and veteran kicker Shayne Graham would be active and would step in and help pick up the slack.
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- Pittsburgh Steelers Le’Veon Bell and Heath Miller Out for Week 1 Match up Against the Tennessee Titans
- Cortez Allen Poised for a Breakout Season Opposite Ike Taylor in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Secondary
- Cortez Allen Undergoes Minor Knee Surgery, Expected to Miss at Least Two Weeks
- Le’Veon Bell a Late Scratch for Pittsburgh Steelers Opener
- Cortez Allen and Jason Worilds to Open Pittsburgh Steelers’ Training Camp as Starters
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