Cortez Allen: Two Minute Drill

Sports - The Citadel's Cortez Allen runds for the end zone after making an interception in the fourth quarter against Samford Saturday, Oct. 31, 2009 at Johnson Hagood Stadium. Samford's George Allers defends on the play. (Alan Hawes/ The Post and Courier) ¬ ¬ Published Caption 11/1/09: Citadel cornerback Cortez Allen eludes Samford pursuers on his way to a 30-yard interception return. ¬ ¬ Published Caption 1/20/11: Citadel QB Cortez Allen ¬ ¬ Published Caption 1/25/11: Former Bulldog Cortez Allen is aiming to follow Andre Roberts' small school-to-NFL route.

Talk about going into training camp this year as opposed to last year when you were a rookie?

“I think I was more confident and mainly that was because I was healthy. I pulled my hamstring last preseason and I missed the last two preseason games. I knew what to expect this time around. I knew the defense much better and I had time in the offseason to learn my position better and soak up the playbook. Everything wasn’t so rapid fire. I felt like I was better prepared.”

What’s the biggest adjustment from college to the NFL?

“I think it’s the mental aspect of the game. You have to prepare so much more for a game at this level than you do in college. The speed of the game is faster, but that’s an easier adjustment. You just play faster. But when you’re facing quarterbacks like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, whose job it is to read defenses, it forces you to think the game more on and off the field.”

What’s Troy Palumaula really like?

“He’s actually a great guy. He’s funny and I don’t think the general public sees that side of him. He’s soft-spoken and he’s quite, but he’s a jokester as well. He loves to play practical jokes on guys. Everyone in the locker room respects him. He has so much knowledge about the game. He’s great with the younger guys. He’s been a mentor for me. When I have a question I go to him because he’s probably the smartest player on the field.”

You had an interception this preseason against the Indianapolis Colts and rookie quarterback Andrew Luck,

“I was just in the right place at the right time. I was going with the flow of the play and the ball came my way and I made a play. I got lucky. Andrew is going to be a great quarterback in this league, you can tell. He has the skill set. You can definitely see why he was the No. 1 pick. He’s composed. He’s smart and he knows where to throw ball.”

You’ve settled in as a nickel cornerback for the Steelers.

“At the end of last season the coaches started to show a lot of confidence in me and my playing time started to pick up. The nickel slot is a role I’ve settled into. I’d like to be an every down cornerback and hopefully that’ll come soon. But right now that’s my role on the team I really enjoy it. You’re going against some of the top slot receivers in the game.”

What’s it like playing against New England’s spread offense and Tom Brady and Wes Welker?

“It’s fun, it’s exciting and it’s kind of terrifying all at the same time. I’m a competitor, so I like to play and test myself against the best players in the league. I think when you play against them you have to accept the challenge and embrace it. You can’t get intimidated by it. Tom Brady is future Hall of Famer and Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski are some of the best receivers in the NFL. I watched those guys when I was in college and to be on the same field with them was an awesome experience. I think I did pretty well against them.”

Compiled by Andrew Miller