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Mike Tomlin: Pittsburgh Steelers will be 'above the line' at cornerback

3/24/2015

PHOENIX -- Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin didn't borrow from Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers Tuesday and tell fans to R-E-L-A-X over the situation at cornerback.

The eighth-year coach is confident the Steelers will be more than capable at cornerback in 2015 despite the inexperience they have at the position and finishing 27th in the NFL against the pass last season.

"I expect the guys that we have to continue to grow and get better," Tomlin said at the NFL owners meetings. "I expect to add credible, competent men to add to that mix to provide competition and put them in a competitive environment and see who comes out on top. I'm completely comfortable that at the end of that we're going to have above the line corner play."

The Steelers have just three cornerbacks with NFL experience on their roster, though Antwon Blake is expected to sign the one-year, $1.554 million contract the team offered him as a restricted free agent.

Tomlin cited Blake as a young cornerback who made some big plays last season and is on the rise.

The Steelers expect him to at least replace Brice McCain, who signed a two-year, $5.5 million contract with the Miami Dolphins earlier this month. Tomlin said he is also confident Cortez Allen will rebound from a season in which he battled injuries and twice lost jobs because of ineffectiveness.

The Steelers hosted free-agent cornerbacks Patrick Robinson and Sterling Moore last week but each signed one-year deals with other teams.

Both Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert said this week the Steelers are most likely to add to the position through the draft. The team could draft several cornerbacks early and use a first-round pick on one -- which would be the first time since 1997 when the Steelers selected Chad Scott.

The Steelers have largely shrugged off questions and concerns about the cornerback position after allowing 253 passing yards per game last season, and so far losing instead of adding players at the position.

Tomlin explained why Tuesday at the media breakfast for AFC coaches.

"We believe in the process that we go through and we also believe in the men that we have," Tomlin said. "I know some of the guys that we have on our roster at the position right now don't have extended resumes. That's always the case. How do you gain experience without going through the process of gaining experience? These guys are driven and they want to be positive contributors to our efforts and reasons why we're successful and some of those guys played key roles down the stretch last year."