STEELERS – WEDNESDAY
PITTSBURGH — The player who nearly was Mr. Irrelevant this year suddenly has become Mr. Indispensable for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Kelvin Beachum, the last of the Steelers’ four seventh-round picks during the NFL Draft this past spring, was the 248th overall selection. Only a handful of players were drafted later than the 6-foot-3, 306-pound Beachum. The final pick, which was 253rd overall, is termed Mr. Irrelevant.
“I had no idea who was going to draft me until the Steelers called, so I was just waiting for that call to come,” Beachum said. “There had been a couple teams who called me and talked about maybe signing me after the draft.
“I really don’t remember who those teams were, but I was confident that I’d get drafted. And fortunately, I got drafted by a good team.”
After injuries to the Steelers’ past two second-round picks, Marcus Gilbert and Mike Adams, Beachum was pressed into a starting role at right offensive tackle. Beachum’s first NFL start came on the road against the Baltimore Ravens, and he’ll get another opportunity against the San Diego Chargers Sunday at 1 p.m. at Heinz Field.
“I got a ton of advice from our veterans,” Beachum said. “Some guys had their first starts against the Ravens (Willie Colon and Ramon Foster), and they’ve had some success against them. So, they had some good input going into the game. And as we all saw, things worked out pretty well for us down there.”
A Texas native, Beachum played collegiately at SMU. The Mustangs offered him a scholarship, along with Iowa State and Division I-AA schools Stephen A. Austin and West Texas A&M.
Cornering the Market
The Steelers hoped to secure two cornerbacks for the future when they selected Curtis Brown (95th overall) and Cortez Allen (128) in the third and fourth round, respectively, during the 2011 NFL Draft. Little did they know that the future was now for both players.
With eight-year starter Ike Taylor out at least two games with right ankle fracture, Allen — who replaced him in the first quarter last week at Baltimore — will start against the Chargers this week. And Brown, who primarily has been a special teams player, takes Allen’s spot in the slot on passing downs. Taylor had not missed a game in more than eight seasons (135 straight games played).
“It’s exciting, getting the start this week, but if I wasn’t excited about this opportunity then what am I here for,” Allen said. “You look for these opportunities, and it’s a good test for me to show that I can handle this job. The Ravens game, it was a learning experience for me, getting thrust into it.
“It was a good test, but I’ll be more prepared this week. There’s more of a one-on-one battle on the outside, more me against him. It does take the thinking out of it, as far as reads go and things like that, but it’s more urgent as well. So, I’m looking forward to it, and I know Curtis is, too.”
Both players had injury problems as rookies, but Allen pushed past Brown during training camp and gained more playing time with every game this season. Both are special teams stalwarts, but Brown got more game action last week.
“Since I haven’t played as much as the other guys this season, I feel like they’ll probably test me early against the Chargers,” Brown said. “But being thrown into that Ravens game, a big rivalry game, I couldn’t have asked for a better chance to learn and perform on a big stage. So, I’m more than ready to step up and perform this week.”
With fourth-year player Keenan Lewis coming into his own as a starter this season, the Steelers have three young cornerbacks in the mix now and possibly years to come.