The Steelers signed Marcus Allen to a one-year contract on Tuesday.
Allen made the switch to linebacker in 2020 and played in 14 games, starting two and missing two due to injuries. He finished with 24 tackles, including 16 solo stops, two for a loss and two quarterback hits. He also added six special teams tackles. He made his first NFL start against Buffalo on Dec. 13, finishing the game with a career-high eight tackles, five of them solo stops, and one tackle for a loss.
Allen, who has been at safety since he was drafted by the Steelers out of Penn State, said he didn't mind making the switch to linebacker, feeling more comfortable each week.
"I like it a lot. I am open to it," said Allen during the season. "I am willing to get better at it every day. I feel as though I have come a long way. I am still getting better, learning more within the position.
"It's basically incorporating more of what I already knew. When you come from safety you know the ins and outs of the defense. It's a different position and just same concepts. I already knew what to do when I was at safety."
Take a look at photographs of Steelers LB Marcus Allen from the 2020 season
Allen said the move to linebacker was a surprise when it happened, but he never flinched.
"This was something new this year to get moved to linebacker," said Allen. "I didn't know I was going to get moved to linebacker. I am open to anything to better the team. This was pretty new when the position switched. At Penn State I was used in the box a lot in passing downs as well. I'm pretty used to it. I've got a good grasp of it."
Allen was drafted by the Steelers in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL Draft, the 148th pick overall, but played in only three games in his first two seasons. He spent a good portion of the 2019 season on the practice squad, waiting for his opportunity while following Coach Mike Tomlin's advice on staying patient.
"He'll say, 'Mess with me,' because that's something we had my rookie year," said Allen. "During the preseason I was playing a game, it was like the fourth quarter, I was making plays and I was like, 'Mess with me, mess with me.' That is something he always says going past me in the locker room. 'Come on, mess with me, let's go.' That is something that always stuck with me. I always want them to mess with me, so I go hard every day. Practice, meetings, outside the field, everything."
That isn't the only way Tomlin has kept him motivated. He has continually encouraged him, making sure he kept on going hard even though his opportunities weren't coming.
"He'll always just be in your ear basically saying keep working," said Allen. "Your opportunity can come at any second so just stay on it every day and never take a day off. For me, being in practice I always went hard whether I was on scout 'D' or getting opportunities or first team reps sometimes."