Allen makes most of 2nd stint with Steelers
By Ralph N. Paulk
Published: Friday, Dec. 13, 2013, 10:27 p.m.
Will Allen figured his career had taken a positive turn when he landed in Dallas via free agency after three seasons with the Steelers.
Things got off to a good start with the Cowboys as the 10th-year safety intercepted a pass in the season opener against the New York Giants. Shortly thereafter, things unraveled. Allen became expendable.
“I wanted to go to Dallas and have a great year, but it didn't happen,” Allen said. “So I came back (to Pittsburgh) to give it everything I could.
“Sometimes you take for granted the opportunities you have.”
The Steelers, who were 0-4, extended Allen an offer to return one day after the Cowboys released him in early October. The Ohio State product seized advantage of the opportunity to prove he still belongs.
Allen has been productive in the nickel and dime packages with 25 tackles, an interception, a fumble recovery and one forced fumble. He also has added stability on special teams.
“I've always had a good opinion of his football ability, and I think he's delivered for us,” defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said.
Allen, who has played all nine games since signing with the Steelers on Oct. 10, enters Sunday night's game against AFC North rival Cincinnati seemingly with job security for next season.
“I'm not sure what's going to happen because it's out of our control,” he said. “I thought I would be back last year. I figured there's no way I wouldn't be back.
“The organization has to make decisions, sometimes tough decisions. All I can do is take advantage of my opportunities, and I think I've done that.
“We'll see when March comes what the powers-that-be decide.”
Allen weighed his options before choosing the Cowboys when free agency opened last offseason.
Allen, who excels on special teams, was lured to Dallas with a one-year, $800,000 offer and the assurance of more playing time.
“You've got to get that money because that window of opportunity is open right now,” cornerback Ike Taylor said. “If you don't want it, somebody else is going to want it. He did what he had to do.”
Allen insists it wasn't simply about the money.
“I wanted to play more because I proved myself the previous year,” he said. “I wanted to keep proving myself. I knew I could do it at a high level. It didn't work out, so I came back here.”
Allen, like cornerback William Gay, has made the most of his second tour with the Steelers.
“Will has a great understanding of this defense,” Gay said. “He's taken the load off (Ryan) Clark, Troy (Polamalu) and Ike because he's a veteran guy who leads by example.”
Allen hopes his knowledge of Cincinnati offensive coordinator Jay Gruden's schemes will give him edge Sunday. The two were in Tampa Bay during part of Allen's six-year stint with the Buccaneers.
“The Gruden philosophy is about finding matchups in the West Coast offense,” Allen said. “He wants to create certain plays, especially in the passing game.”
Ralph N. Paulk is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @RalphPaulk_Trib.
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