Cockrell prepared for anything


Cornerback Ross Cockrell has flashed potential in his brief tenure with the Steelers, but the former fourth-round pick of the Bills is also less than a finished product.

The Steelers prepare for the home opener against the 49ers.

"Every time A.B. (wide receiver Antonio Brown) gets up there, (Cockrell) jumps up there," for a practice rep, defensive coordinator Keith Butler observed. "So he's trying to get up against the best and work against the best so that's encouraging to me. At least he's got the confidence to be the corner that you want him to be."

Cockrell (6-foot, 191 pounds) has been aggressive since being released by Buffalo on Aug. 31 and signed by the Steelers on Sept. 5, but at times overly so.

"He's got to be careful about putting his hands on people," Butler continued. "The problem with being a good cover-corner, sometimes you grab jerseys too much in order to alleviate a problem that you have with technique instead of being confident and not grabbing jerseys.

"If you grab jerseys they're going to call you every time, automatic first down, can't do that."

Cockrell was inactive for the regular-season opener at New England but could potentially make his Steelers debut on Sunday afternoon at Heinz Field.

Cortez Allen, the first cornerback off the bench in sub-package situations against the Patriots, didn't practice on Wednesday and was limited on Thursday and again today (knee).

And cornerback Brandon Boykin, who played special teams at New England, was limited on Wednesday, didn't practice on Thursday and was a full participant today (groin).

"We'll see what we have," Butler said. "We hope we can field a team that is going to be competitive and I think we will."

Cockrell had been busy on the practice field all week and took almost every rep in today's session.

"I did have a couple reps off," he said. "It was good work today, good work on a Friday preparing for San Francisco on Sunday."

As for the specifics of his perceived role against the 49ers, "I'm not really sure yet," Cockrell continued. "I'm going to serve this team as best I can. They brought me in here to play so I'm just getting ready for anything. I'm prepared to play special teams, defense, if they need me at (wide) receiver, I'll play receiver.

"This week I did run with the Ones (the first-team defense), the Twos (second-team defense), I was all over the place."

Cockrell appeared in seven games for the Bills last season.

"He's done well in practice," Butler said. "He's stayed with people pretty well.

"We'll see how he does."

Allen (knee).

Probable:Boykin, LB Ryan Shazier (knee), FS Mike Mitchell (hip), QB Landry Jones (concussion), SS Will Allen (concussion), LB Sean Spence (hamstring).

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