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Steelers

Steelers notebook: Maligned cornerback Allen awaits his next chance to contribute

| Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014, 6:57 p.m.

Cortez Allen doesn't know where or when he will return to the starting lineup, but the Steelers' maligned cornerback is assured of one thing when he gets another chance: “I'll be ready.”

Allen hasn't taken a single defensive snap in two games despite getting a five-year, $25 million contract the day before the season started.

The contract indicated he was viewed by the organization as its cornerback of the future.

Allen was replaced by Brice McCain in the base defense in Week 7 against the Texans, and then by Antwon Blake in the nickel a week later after Allen allowed a pair of touchdowns against the Colts.

“I just have to keep working and be ready when that time comes,” Allen said. “You have to move past it and be honest with yourself so that you can work on the things that you need to take care of.”

Allen said he is focusing on making plays when he has the chance.

“It's not good enough just to be close,” Allen said. “It's frustrating that you don't make those plays when you are in position to, but I know where I have to go and what I have to do to fix the problem.

“It gives me direction of what to work on.”

McCullers to start

Nose tackle Steve McLendon has been ruled out for Monday's game against the Titans with a shoulder injury, clearing the way for rookie Daniel McCullers to make his first career start.

Troy Polamalu (knee), Ryan Shazier (knee), Ike Taylor (forearm) and Shamarko Thomas (hamstring) also are out.

Starting fast

The Steelers have been behind in the first quarter in eight of their past nine games, and tight end Heath Miller knows that's a trend that can't continue.

“We talk about it every week,” Miller said. “We have to get off the bus and start faster. It's a night game, so they are going to be ready to roll.

“We have to come off the bus ready to roll and get some points on the board early so we can open up a little cushion so we have all our options open.”

The Steelers have allowed opening-drive points in eight of their 10 games, including three touchdowns — against Baltimore, Tampa Bay and Houston.

The Steelers have scored only twice on opening drives — against Cleveland and Indianapolis.

Kicking in the cold

The weather is expected to dip into the 20s in Nashville by gametime Monday night. It's not that big of a deal, unless your team's punter is from Australia.

Brad Wing, who grew up in Melborne and played college in Louisiana, hasn't punted much in cold weather.

Wing said he punted in sub-freezing temperatures once in college against Arkansas, as well as when he had a workout with the Steelers in January.

“I've been in it before but haven't played in it on a week-to-week basis,” Wing said. “I don't envision it being too much. We should be good.”

Wing, who is 29th in the league with a 43.9-yard average, said he will warm up a little more before the game.

“It is a little colder, and the balls get a little harder, but it is nothing catastrophic,” he said.

Feast time

Guard Ramon Foster will host some of his teammates for dinner Sunday night in Nashville.

Foster, a Tennessee graduate who spends his offseason in Nashville, invited his offensive line mates along with others for a catered dinner.

“I think there will be plenty of food,” Foster said. “I think it will be cool. I think we will have a good time.”

Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at mkaboly@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib.

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