Preseason losses might not count but they can still be disappointing nonetheless. The silver lining in Saturday night’s loss to the Indianapolis Colts, is the performance of three rookies. Two of these Pittsburgh Steelers rookies are looking to bolster a secondary that could really use their help. The other is a running back who brings to mind the style of Byron “Bam” Morris. This week’s Steelers rookie review takes a look at the performances of Brian Allen, Cameron Sutton, and Terrell Watson.
Preseason Week Three: Steelers Rookie Review
Ross Cockrell has gotten off to a rocky start, putting the cornerback position in a bit of a bind. While there was never any expectations of him making a Pro Bowl appearance, Cockrell was steady at least. Until he figures out the reasons for his recent inability to provide coverage, the Steelers need someone to step up. Allen, is steadily progressing each week and could be special in a couple years, but isn’t quite ready now. Sutton on the other hand, has picked up the defense quickly, and is polished enough to possibly help now.
Steelers Rookie Review: Brian Allen
Allen has physical gifts that aren’t often seen in a cornerback. He possesses a rare combination of size and speed that could help him become a true shutdown corner. Considering that he is a converted wide receiver, it’s impressive how physical he gets in run defense. Against the Colts, Allen recorded two tackles, including an assist on a stop four yards behind the line of scrimmage.
Allen was the first defender to reach running back Josh Ferguson on that play, and held on until help arrived. In coverage he kept everything in front of him, giving up nothing consequential. Granted, Allen isn’t facing the caliber of receivers that Cockrell is facing, but it is clear as day that his technique is a whole lot better.
Steelers Rookie Review: Cameron Sutton
During his first action of the preseason, Sutton showed off his knowledge of the system and good field awareness. His first significant play was recognizing the receivers route and quickly undercutting it to break up the pass. Sutton totaled three tackles and looked pretty smooth in coverage. Although he missed quite a bit of time in camp with a hamstring injury, Sutton showed no ill effects from it. His most important contribution Saturday night was the hope he gave, that help for the secondary is on the way.
Steelers Rookie Review: Terrell Watson
Watching Watson run the ball is pure primal pleasure because of the way he punishes defenders. For the second straight appearance, Watson displayed the ability to create his own yards and running lanes after initial contact. The more he carried the ball, the slower the Colts defensive players got up. With each carry, their will to engage him visibly diminished. Watson has has rightfully earned a place on this roster and the Steelers will give him a home. He gives the Steelers a bruising style back who can pick up the tough yards and can grind out the clock at the end.
When it comes time to make the final cuts, Tomlin and his staff are going to have some tough decisions to make. Keeping Watson, Allen, and Sutton around won’t be included in those. Each one represents not only the ability to help out now, but the chance to be stars in the near future.