Allen: 'It's an intense moment in practice'

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It's a drill you can hate, or one you can love. For Steelers players it's the latter, because it makes them better.

It's referred to by Coach Mike Tomlin as 'seven shots,' a drill where the ball is placed at the two-yard line with the offense looking to punch it into the end zone.

The offense throws everything at the defense, the full arsenal of weapons, and it's a challenge, a huge challenge. But it pays off in the end, and is part of why defensive players feel they have had success in the red zone this year.

"I contribute it all to seven shots," said safety Will Allen. "That's our competitive advantage offensively and defensively. It's a situation that happens throughout the year, on a consistent level. The coaches put us in the hardest position possible. It's something that we use. I enjoy it, everybody enjoys it in practice, but everybody wants to win. It's something that helps us come game time."

Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, Markus Wheaton, Heath Miller, and DeAngelo Williams, all lined up in every formation possible, no wonder Allen credits it with their success. Because if you can do well against those athletes, well you can do well against anybody.

"You see the most obscure situations from our offense," said Allen. "You see the hardest routes against man coverage, you see the hardest routes against zone coverage. You see the hardest routes and combinations against every coverage you can think of. You say 'I didn't know they could do that, I didn't know this was going to happen.' It prepares us for the looks, prepares us for what possibly is going to happen.

"Coach Tomlin emphasizes situational ball all of the time. That is his deal. That is his big thing, situations after a turnover, after anybody comes in red zone, third down, start of a series, all of these situations that are key moments in a game. He is a stickler for those. He prepares his team that way so it helps us."

Allen said that while the team used 'seven shots' on a more regular basis in OTAs, minicamp and training camp, there is nothing set in stone as to when or if they are going to do it in practice.

The best photos of Safety Will Allen from the 2015 season thus far.

"It's whenever the coach wants to do it," said Allen. "It's an intense moment in practice."

The Browns were inside the red zone four times against the Steelers on Sunday, and came away with only nine points. And while Johnny Manziel threw for 372 yards, the defense held the Browns to a measly 15 rushing yards.

"I hate giving up yards," said Allen. "Once you make a team one dimensional they have to pass, and it's hard to stop every pass these quarterbacks throw. They are NFL quarterbacks. We harden up, tighten up in the red zone, and if we hold them to three points or less I am happy with that. This week we did a pretty good job besides the touchdown I gave up.

"I think we are pretty consistent in our red zone coverage and defense. I would like to see us give up around 200-250 yard range in passing. These last few weeks, 300 yards a game is not good for me. I guess when you make a team one-dimensional that is what happens."

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