Allen is prepared for whatever, whenever

Will Allen shows up each week on game day ready to play special teams as always and on defense as needed. He's been doing so long enough now that he really doesn't require much if anything in terms of advanced notice.

"Whatever they need," the veteran safety insisted. "I don't even know where they have me on the depth chart, maybe strong safety? I don't know, but I've played both."

For the record, Allen is the backup to free safety Mike Mitchell on the Steelers' depth chart. But it was also Allen who started at strong safety last Sunday against Kansas City in place of Troy Polamalu (knee). And it was Allen who alternately took over for Polamalu (knee) and Mitchell (groin) in the same game on Dec. 14 in Atlanta.

It's all in a week's work for Allen, a veteran of 162 career regular season games and 39 career regular season starts (including three this season in place of Polamalu) heading into Sunday night's AFC North Division-deciding battle with Cincinnati.

"Of course, definitely I'm prepared for it," Allen said. "The coaches do a good job of detailing what the other teams like to do, their tendencies, and what our role is from a defensive standpoint.

"I learn a lot and I practice it, so I'm always prepared. They do a good job of preparing me and the team."

Allen remains a regular contributor in the kicking game. He played 13 special teams snaps and all 66 snaps for a defense that didn't allow a touchdown in last Sunday's playoffs-clinching, 20-12 victory over the Chiefs.

"We have a lot of guys who are young and hungry," Allen said. "They're hungry on special teams and on defense. Our defense, together we all stood up. A lot of players came in and contributed and played well."

Polamalu (knee) is listed as questionable for the Cincinnati game, which means it's 50-50 Allen will start.

"I'm thankful every day I get to be here, every day that I'm on the field, but I'm used to it," Allen said. "I've played in big games here. I've played against Baltimore and started. Last year against Detroit, when we were trying to come back, last year against Green Bay, last year against Cincinnati, I'm used to it.

"I'm used to getting thrown into those positions in big-time moments, in diverse, pressure moments."

Take a look at the best photos from this season's Rookie of the Year, Martavis Bryant.

So he should be right at home on Sunday night at Heinz Field in whatever capacity he's asked to fulfill for a Steelers team determined to do more than merely qualify for the postseason.

"I just think we're a team on the rise, like Coach (Mike) Tomlin always says," Allen maintained. "We still have a lot to accomplish, a lot left on our plate.

"We're still eager. We're still humble about our work."

Questionable: Troy Polamalu (knee), TE Michael Palmer (groin), CB Ike Taylor (shoulder/forearm).
Probable: OT Kelvin Beachum (back), TE Matt Spaeth (elbow), ILB Vince Williams (ankle).

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.