Share This Page

Steelers' Gay not getting ahead of himself

| Friday, Oct. 11, 2013, 10:45 p.m.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Steelers' William Gay dives at the Vikings' Greg Jennings' feet on his way to a touchdown in the first quarter of a loss to Minnesota on Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013, at Wembley Stadium in London.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
The Chiefs' Donnie Avery eludes Steelers cornerback Cortez Allen during the first quarter Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013 at Heinz Field.

William Gay is not getting ahead of himself, despite apparently locking up the starting left cornerback job over Cortez Allen for Sunday's game against the Jets.

“Cortez is still the guy to me,” Gay said Friday after taking most of the reps with the first-team defense. “I encourage him every day to make sure he knows that. When he gets back in, he has to (believe) this is his job.”

Allen, a fourth-round draft pick three years ago, was penciled in as the starter early in training camp. He secured the job, in part, because his 2011 NFL Draft classmate, Curtis Brown, never thrust himself into contention.

Although Gay returned after an abbreviated stay with the Arizona Cardinals, there was little doubt the oft-injured Allen would line up opposite Ike Taylor.

Allen again has been hampered by injuries — he missed two games before returning against Minnesota in London two weeks ago. But it's not an injury that has caught up with him this time. An uneven performance against the Vikings cleared the way for Gay to reclaim the job he held while Allen was injured.

“I just want to make sure I'm doing my job whether I'm the starter or the nickel (back),” Gay said. “It's not the reason I came back. I want to be part of something great.”

Gay is among several lineup changes made by coach Mike Tomlin as the Steelers (0-4) prepare to face the Jets (3-2) at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

Left tackle Mike Adams was relieved of his job in favor of Kelvin Beachum or recently required Levi Brown. Also, defensive end Ziggy Hood will be replaced by Cam Heyward.

“Cam and William have been playing before, so it's not like we lack confidence in those guys,” linebacker LaMarr Woodley said. “It's not like they're new to the team. Whether you're a starter or backup, you have to stay focus. We can't afford any mental lapses.”

“Our mentality hasn't change defensively because we've changed (the starting lineup),” safety Troy Polamalu said. “How we've executed so far has been subpar, so we need to execute better.”

The Steelers' secondary will face rookie quarterback Geno Smith, who for the first time this season didn't commit a turnover in the Jets' win over Atlanta. The former West Virginia quarterback is a running threat as well, which is a point of emphasis for a secondary that missed several tackles against Minnesota.

“We want to focus on us,” Gay said. “We have to make tackles and if the ball comes our way, catch it.

“Regardless what the quarterback can do, we can't let any balls get behind us.”

In their loss to the Vikings, the Steelers were beaten by the deep ball, and Adrian Peterson hit a home run with 60-yard scoring run.

“The winning and losing between each snap is mostly mental,” Allen said. “If you have the ability to focus on the technique things, then you have a better chance of coming out on the right side of a play.”

Allen, though, was on the wrong side of several plays against the Vikings. He was beaten in coverage and missed a couple of tackles that enabled the Vikings to sustain scoring drives.

“I think not missing any time would have taken care of some of the problems I had. I had to get used to the speed of things and tackling, things that not having injuries would have cleared up for me,” Allen said. “All I can do now is take the extra time to fine tune things I know I can do.”

Ralph N. Paulk is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rpaulk@tribweb.com or via Twitter @RalphPaulk_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.