Starting corner Allen says he plans to be back for season opener
Cornerback Cortez Allen, who last week underwent knee surgery, said Monday he expects to play in the season opener when the Steelers face Tennessee on Sept. 8 at Heinz Field.
Allen practiced only sparingly before developing discomfort in his right leg and knee shortly after training camp began July 27. Allen said the knee is improving, but he'll remain out of practice until late in the preseason.
He continues to undergo extensive rehabilitation in hopes of returning to practice in a couple of weeks. William Gay has moved into the starting lineup in Allen's absence, while Josh Victorian and Isaiah Green are challenging for a roster spot with Curtis Brown, who returned to the field Monday after sitting out two days with a pulled hamstring.
Allen declined to offer any specifics of his surgery. Coach Mike Tomlin said last week his surgery was simply a “clean-up” procedure and will be evaluated on a day-to-day basis.
“I'm just trying to be smart about it,” said Allen, who had three starts last season. “I can't really give a timetable on it, but I just have to follow the instructions of the training staff.”
Allen and Brown have endured a series of injuries since they were taken in the fourth and third rounds, respectively, in the 2011 draft. Allen said he's not discouraged by his latest injury.
“It's not a setback,” Allen said. “I try to stay as positive as possible. Even though I can't be out there physically, the mental aspect of it is still important.
“Of course it's disappointing when you can't do what you love. I pride myself on staying in good spirits. I'm doing my best to get back on the field.”
Allen's injury is one of many plaguing the secondary, particularly the cornerbacks. In addition to Brown, DeMarcus Van Dyke (hamstring) has been slowed as well.
“We have guys in the group who are able to compete with anybody in the league, so the ball keeps moving,” said Allen, who has added massages and acupuncture to his rehabilitation.
Allen stepped into the starting lineup late last season when 11-year veteran Ike Taylor went down with an ankle injury. He started only one game before being sidelined with a groin injury.
“Whenever you go through a little adversity, it's been a positive thing for me,” he said. “It's nothing to hang my head about.
“It strengthens me as a player to keep pushing myself. Curtis and I talk about this all the time. We encourage each other because it's a team effort.”
Brown, who began last season with a realistic chance taking over at right corner, finds himself in a familiar place. For the third straight season, an injury has limited him during training camp.
“As far as injuries, we are helping each other out until our brothers get back,” veteran William Gay said. “They've got to know there's nothing you can do with your body. I've worked out with Cortez. He's treated his body well, so when it happens you have to keep a level mind.”