After a season on sideline, Marcus Allen ready to shine in Steelers secondary
A hamstring injury caused Marcus Allen to miss the Pittsburgh Steelers’ rookie minicamp, voluntary organized team activities and mandatory minicamp and much of training camp last year.
This time, the second-year strong safety has gone from sideline spectator to making plays at OTAs. Allen is hoping to play a prominent role for the Steelers this season.
“It feels good to get back to work,” said Allen, a 2018 fifth-round pick. “Last year, I wasn’t out here for OTAs so it was like being on the outside looking in and getting the feel of it.
“It bothered me a lot. I got here, got drafted and had high expectations for myself. Being not ready and able to go out there and show what I can do was disappointing. I wanted to show what I can do. Now that I’m all good and healthy it feels like I’m back at home.”
At 6-foot-2, 215 pounds, Allen uses his size and physicality against the run. A big hitter who finished in the top five in career tackles in Penn State history, Allen calls himself a “dynamic player” who can play in the box or in coverage.
The Steelers might call him a dime linebacker in their sub-packages, especially now that they have severed ties with veteran Morgan Burnett after one season. Allen spent most of last season getting mental reps, learning under the guidance of fellow safeties Burnett, Jordan Dangerfield and Sean Davis.
“It feels second nature now, honestly, just going out there and performing,” Allen said. “I know our plays and got it down pat.”
But spending his rookie season on the sidelines was an eye-opening experience for Allen, whose only action came in a pair of games last December. He played 18 snaps on defense and 13 on special teams, and finished with two tackles.
“It was humbling. It definitely humbles you,” said Allen, a four-year starter at Penn State. “It was definitely like being a freshman in college all over again. I just had to sit back and observe and listen to what everybody had to say. I had to build up my confidence to be everything they want me to be in this organization.”
Allen made his NFL debut in the 33-30 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers on Dec. 2 at Heinz Field, playing 17 snaps on defense and nine on special teams. Allen also played one snap on defense and three on special teams in the season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals, a 16-13 victory.
“I expect better things completely this year,” Allen said, “but just being out there last year, fulfilling my dream, was incredible. Just walking out the gates and looking at the stadium with everyone roaring was crazy.
“Every game is motivation, to be honest. Just not being out there and looking on the sideline, I knew my time was coming.”
Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Kevin by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .