Pittsburgh Steelers Secondary to Face Stiff Test Against Andrew Luck

Chris Gazze@ChrisG_PITCorrespondent IAugust 14, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - AUGUST 12: Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts looks over the defense against the St. Louis Rams during a preseason NFL game at Lucas Oil Stadium on August 12, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

There are few teams that welcome rookie quarterbacks to the NFL like the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Dick LeBeau’s defense likes to feast on inexperience and while it is only the preseason, it will get a chance to fluster a rookie quarterback this weekend.

But when the Indianapolis Colts take the field on Sunday night, they will not have an ordinary quarterback under center.

The No. 1 pick in the draft, Andrew Luck, is far from ordinary and dazzled in his NFL debut last week.

Luck completed 10-of-16 passes for 188 yards and two touchdowns against the St. Louis Rams and made plays that typical rookies do not make.

He looked comfortable in the pocket, moved well and made precision passes where only the receiver could make the play.

Possibly the most impressive part of Luck’s debut was that of his six incompletions, three were dropped and two others were thrown away to avoid a sack.

While Sunday’s game is only a preseason game, it will feel like much more being played on national television and facing one of the most NFL-ready quarterback prospects to come out of the draft since Peyton Manning.

The coaching staff has to be excited for this match up as Luck should provide the Steelers secondary with a stiff test.

It will be particularly important for the cornerbacks battling for the starting and nickel jobs.

So far this has been a three-man battle in camp with Keenan Lewis, Cortez Allen and Curtis Brown.

Lewis is the favorite, but Allen has had an excellent camp and had a good showing in the preseason opener against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Brown struggled last week and this could be a good bounce-back opportunity if he gets to face Luck.

But this battle should come down to Lewis and Allen, and each will get to face the talented Colts rookie.

Dick LeBeau will not bring out the typical game plan that he would for a regular season game, which means that the Steelers cornerbacks' raw abilities will be on full display.

Luck is capable of squeezing passes into tight spaces and will look to get rid of the ball if he is under pressure and no one is open.

This will be a good test for Lewis and Allen in coverage.

However, Luck is still a rookie and the Colts still have plenty of holes, and if the Steelers can get pressure on Luck, he may be forced into making mistakes.

Pittsburgh lacked playmakers in the secondary last season and Lewis and Allen facing Luck with his inexperience could provide great opportunities for them to make plays on the ball.

It is imperative that the Steelers increase the number of turnovers this year and a major part of this will need to come from the cornerbacks intercepting passes.

Lewis only has one career interception, but he has had a strong camp and at the very least will not allow any big plays.

Allen is limited on experience but has looked outstanding in camp and has made athletic interceptions in practice. However, he needs to prove this in game situations.

Sunday night will be about as big of a stage that these cornerbacks will get for a preseason game.

A national audience will be watching as the No. 1 overall selection in the draft looks to replicate his sensational debut against one of the most storied franchise in the league.

But the Steelers bow to no one, especially not to rookie quarterbacks, and the Pittsburgh defensive backs will look to make their mark and provide Luck with his “welcome to the NFL” moment.


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