Marcus Allen practicing with Steelers linebacker group
The Steelers are attempting to find some versatility with Marcus Allen by having him practice with the inside linebackers.
The Steelers have a depth problem at inside linebacker behind Devin Bush and Vince Williams. With Mark Barron’s release, the Steelers have limited experience behind the starting tandem.
Ulysees Gilbert and Robert Spillane are on the roster but neither has much in-game experience at ILB. The Steelers see an opportunity to give a veteran player more opportunities to grab a role within the defense and are letting Marcus Allen have a shot.
Allen is a bit smaller than the other linebackers on the team at 6’2″, 215 pounds. The average of the four other inside linebackers is 6’0″ 231.5 pounds.
He is a little faster than most of the group outside of Bush and Gilbert. His speed and background as a safety could help him drop into a sub linebacker spot similar to what Mark Barron’s role was in 2019.
Allen has been with the Steelers since 2018 but spent most of 2019 on the practice squad after being on the roster all of 2018 as a rookie. He has not garnered much playing time in either season playing just a handful of snaps.
His practices with the linebackers have been going well and he is showing he is not afraid to hit according to coach Jerry Olsavsky:
Allen has gone from a potential final cut candidate to showing he can be flexible in where he plays. The best thing a young player without a starting spot can do is show he is willing to move and do whatever it takes to make an impact on the field.
It seems Allen has brought the energy into his new role at practice and has caught the eye of his coaches and fellow players. If Allen can provide depth at both safety and linebacker for the team, his value to the defense grows exponentially.
As for his fit at inside linebacker, it isn’t far fetched to think he could accel at the position. He is a physical athlete with enough speed to help cover today’s athletic tight ends and slot guys.
In today’s NFL, you need guys who can do that as well as be versatile. Defenses constantly have to evolve to counter what new schemes offensive coaches are coming up with.
Evolving starts with having players who can play all over the field and help create more mismatches in their favor. Allen’s height and speed could help create those mismatches that defenses crave in an offensively driven league.
In college, he forced five fumbles and recorded 17 tackles for a loss in his career. If he can muster that style of play in a sub-package linebacker role, he can most certainly add a new element to an already solid core defensive group for the Steelers.