With our offensive breakdown of the quarter backs, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends and offensive line now in the books, it is now time to move to the other side of the ball. Our breakdown of the defense will start with the Pittsburgh Steelers' Cornerbacks. With only Bryant McFadden not returning to his starting role in 2009, this position will remain pretty much 'status quo' from the one that won the Super Bowl last season.
Gay moved up on the depth chart when McFadden signed with Arizona as a free agent. That, coupled with veteran Deshea Townsend becoming more entrenched as the nickel back, opened the door for Gay.
Two years ago, Gay was a little-known, fifth-round draft pick from Louisville. Now, he's on the verge of starting at cornerback for the defending Super Bowl champions. Now on to the breakdown of the Pittsburgh Steelers defensive secondary.
Steelers Position Breakdown of the Defensive Backs
Ike Taylor - For the second consecutive year, Taylor has restructured his contract to help the Steelers gain some cap room and be able to sign other key players. That in it's self shows, off the field, he has character. On the field Ike is all business. Just ask Chad Ocho Cinco, of the Cinncy Bungals, about his talent. Taylor is still the only DB on Ocho's 'list' to not get checked off. Taylor has the speed and ball skills to be one of the best in the business at his position and has the respect of the leagues top receivers to boot.
Ike's one flaw is his hands and ability to create interceptions. He has possibly dropped more potential int's then the great Rod Woodson every caught. If his skills catching the rock could improve, Ike might be considered a top five NFL cornerback. Either way he is still one of the best the game has to offer and a few years under Mike Tomlin's tutelage has only made him better. Our suggestion to Ike, here at Pittsburgh Blitz ,is that he no longer packs those butter sandwiches in his lunch on game days.
William Gay - He played in all sixteen games last year, starting in four of them when McFadden and Deshea Townsend were injured. Gay logged 41 tackles and netted the interception that sealed the Steelers second regular season victory over the Ravens. Yet the former fifth round draft pick will have to make Steelers fans forget about McFadden as soon as possible. Gay has all the tools to be a solid number two cornerback in the league but lacks the experience required to have gained much notoriety. Though that should change in 2009.
William Gay isn't taking his depth chart promotion for granted, but he is confident as spring workouts get underway that he can be the eventual starting cornerback opposite Ike Taylor. "I'm not a starter yet. It's just penciled in. That's all a starter means, that I'm penciled in for the first game. Matter of fact, take it back just to the first preseason game," said Gay. "Just knowing the defense, going out there and playing with confidence. I think that's the biggest thing as a corner, just having a comfort level -- what we call a swagger." Gay will compete for now with veteran CB Deshea Townsend, who settled into the nickel back role last season.
Deshea Townsend - A crafty veteran cornerback, Townsend enters his 11th year with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Though he may have lost a step, Deshea will always be an intelligent player and can make up for his lack of speed with great decision making. Townsend was regulated to nickel back duties last season after losing the starting job to Bryant McFadden. His place on the depth chart should remain the same for 2009 as well, unless the team decides to make him their primary back up safety and promote one of the other DB's on the team to the nickle spot.
The former Alabama Crimson Tide star is more then a DB though for the Steelers. Townsend is known for his outside speed as a pass rusher and has recorded 15.5 sacks in his career to go along with his 18 interceptions. In Super Bowl XL, Townsend had a key sack on Matt Hasselbeck of the Seahawks, late in the game to help seal the victory. Deshea is well known for making key plays at critical moments during his career and his experience should help him remain the Steelers nickle back as well as help the younger players at the position, grow and become better players....