Latest Steelers Buzz

DB coach Carnell Lake remains upbeat about 3rd year corner Keenan Lewis

By Dale Grdnic
LATROBE, Pa. — The Pittsburgh Steelers’ secondary basically was ready to go to begin the preseason opener last week, but as the second quarter got underway mostly undrafted free agents were needed to provide depth.
Cornerback Bryant McFadden and safety Troy Polamalu did not play due to injury, and both cornerback Ike Taylor and safety Ryan Clark were lost in the first quarter. And veteran safety Will Allen was a late scratch.
So, fifth-year player William Gay and third-year pro Keenan Lewis manned the corner spots, while third-year pro Ryan Mundy started for Polamalu and first-year player Da’Mon Cromartie-Smith took over for Clark. But Lewis could be the key to the cornerback spot if the light finally turns on this season.
“They’re all trying very hard, and Keenan’s progressing,” Steelers secondary coach Carnell Lake said. “He’s coachable, and he’s trying to do what I’ve asked him to do. He’s playing within himself right now. Opportunities are all around.
“You never know when you’re going to be in a game, and I keep telling my guys that. So, you just have to be prepared when your number’s called.”
With Taylor out indefinitely with a broken left thumb and McFadden struggling to come back from a slight hamstring tear, it should be a time to shine for Lewis. He is expected to start against the Philadelphia Eagles Thursday night at 8 at Heinz Field.
“It’s a big opportunity for me, and it would be the same for anyone with a chance to step onto the field in a starting role,” Lewis said. “This is my third year, so I’m a lot more confident out there, and I’m looking forward to taking advantage of any chance I get.
“(But) I really don’t look at this like it’s a make-or-break season for me. It’s an important opportunity, but it’s not like it’s going to be my last one. I believe I do have to make a bigger splash this time, because I’ve been here two years now. I know what I need to do, but I just have to do out there and do it.” The other drafted cornerbacks, second-year player Crezdon Butler and rookie draft picks Curtis Brown and Cortez Allen, also have missed considerable time the past two weeks in camp with hamstring problems. Lake believed things happen in waves, like interceptions and injuries, but he was hopeful that the Steelers’ injuries in the secondary have run their course. And all the picks are yet to come.
McFadden wants to start against the Eagles, but he’s more hopeful that his worst days are behind him as far as these injuries are concerned. He said that he wasn’t too healthy last season, despite not missing any regular-season games during his sixth NFL season.
McFadden suffered from various lower body injuries during the latter portion of the season, including an abdomen strain in the AFC divisional playoff win over the Baltimore Ravens. He played a limited role against the New York Jets in the AFC championship and in the Super Bowl versus the Green Bay Packers.
“I’m getting better all the time,” McFadden said. “So, we’re going to continue the same treatment and press forward with everything. It’s been a tough couple weeks for me, but I practiced some (Sunday) and {hope to go again today}, ” McFadden said prior to today’s practice. “As far as playing Thursday, we’ll have to wait to see how the next couple days go.
“Hamstrings are kind of tricky, so we’re just being smart about it and doing everything that the doctors tell me to do. I’m practicing and seeing how I feel afterward. This is my first time with this type of injury, so I’m not used to anything like this. I’ve had little strains before, but nothing like this.”
McFadden said it was more like a tear, not off the bone, but the hamstring was slightly torn and had to heal.
“We’re getting closer, but we’re not there yet,” McFadden said. “I have to be able to open up and run full speed, and if you’re not healthy it could come back and last the entire year.”
McFadden was hopeful that he would be ready to play next week if he’s not able to go against the Eagles.

About The Author

Dale Grdnic

TIOPS Steelers Beat Writer

Dale Grdnic is a contributor to Inside Pittsburgh Sports, covering the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pitt Football. Dale has covered the Pittsburgh Sports scene for over 15 years with various publications

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