Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE
The top-rated pass defense in the league last year had a forgettable ending to the season as they got shredded by Tim Tebow of the Denver Broncos in the playoffs.
It was a particularly crushing finish for Ike Taylor, who was beaten by Demaryius Thomas for the game-winning touchdown. Taylor told Albert Buford of the New Orleans Times-Picayune that he has not forgotten that play.
“I remember it every day,” Taylor said. “People remember you for things you do, and I don’t want to have that game be what people remember me for.”
The process of changing that perception will begin as he prepares for a new season at training camp.
Taylor will still be the Steelers top cornerback, but will have plenty of competition for the other starting role. Keenan Lewis will be the favorite to earn the job after playing corner in the nickel defense last season.
Being his first year as a key contributor, Lewis played well. He was not susceptible to the big play and has all of the athletic abilities to continue to improve.
But he will be pushed by Curtis Brown and Cortez Allen.
Brown was a third-round draft pick last season and caught the coaches’ attention on special teams. Injuries in camp and throughout the season contributed to him not being a factor with the defense.
While Brown will be a factor, the biggest threat to Lewis may be Cortez Allen.
Allen was drafted in the fourth round by the Steelers last season and at 6’1” is the tallest of the young corners.
Despite being athletically gifted, it was thought that Allen would take time to develop given how raw he was. But Allen had an outstanding camp and would eventually earn a spot with the defense on passing downs.
The battle for the second starting spot at cornerback will be the most exciting in training camp this year.
Things are much more secure at safety where Polamalu and Clark will once again start. Though they are another year older, this duo is one of the top pairs in the league and should be in for another good season.
Behind the starters, Ryan Mundy is the top backup and there will be a number of players, including Will Allen, who will compete for a spot on the roster.
Allen is primarily a special teams player, but is the most experienced backup besides Mundy. However, he has a high price tag for a backup with a $1.6 million cap hit.
That may leave the door open for a young safety to make the final roster.