Will Allen shining in return for Steelers

Will Allen’s 10-year NFL career has taken some twists. Now he

finally appears settled in for a second stint with the Pittsburgh

Steelers.

Allen has flourished since returning to the Steelers in October

after a short stay with the Dallas Cowboys. He has given Pittsburgh

(5-8) depth in the secondary after rookie Shamarko Thomas was

slowed with an ankle injury.

Allen helped the Steelers shut down Calvin Johnson in the second

half of a 37-27 victory over the Detroit Lions last month and has

freed safety Troy Polamalu to experiment closer to the line of

scrimmage in certain defensive packages.

”He probably won the Detroit game, at least from a defensive

standpoint,” Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said. ”He

picked up that fumble and ran about 60 yards in the Cleveland game.

(And) he’s done a great job for Coach (Danny) Smith on special

teams.”

Allen played with the Steelers from 2010-12 and spoke

extensively about wanting to remain in Pittsburgh, but the Dallas

Cowboys offered him a chance to start.

Allen played in five games and started twice for the Cowboys. He

had three pass breakups and an interception in an early game, but

Allen fell victim to the club’s early struggles and he was released

after some roster juggling. Allen was unemployed for just a couple

days before signing with the Steelers on Oct. 10. He has one pass

breakup, an interception and 27-yard return, one forced fumble and

one fumble recovery.

”Before he left, he was a starting safety for us in a high

percentage of the games,” LeBeau said. ”I’ve always had a good

opinion of his football ability, and I think he’s delivered for

us.”

It’s the kind of praise that Allen doesn’t take for granted.

”I really didn’t know what would happen when I signed with the

Steelers, but I was prepared for anything,” Allen said. ”You

know, one day, they said: `You’re in.’ Just like last year. `Will,

you’re starting this week.’ But every week, generally, is

different. And we have to be able to capitalize on every

opportunity we get, so that’s what I try to do.

That’s been a hallmark of Allen’s career to date, working hard,

biding his time and then taking advantage of it when he got a

chance to play.

”Yeah, always being ready and always being a steady guy and

always being consistent,” Allen said. ”I think you could kind of

label me like that. But this year, I think I’ve added a little more

splash to my game, making a few more big plays. But, I guess,

consistency has been the key for me.”

Notes: DE Brett Keisel (foot) is out for Sunday’s game against

Cincinnati (9-4); NT Steve McLendon (ankle) is questionable after

practicing on a limited basis Friday. … S Troy Polamalu

(shoulder) and WR Emmanuel Sanders (foot) were back at practice

Friday and listed as probable, along with OT Kelvin Beachum (knee),

WR Jerricho Cotchery (shoulder), OG David DeCastro (foot), OT

Marcus Gilbert (ankle) and DE Ziggy Hood (ankle).

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org