View Full Version : Rookie cornerback making tough job look easy

10-12-2007, 06:02 AM

Friday, October 12, 2007

By Ray Fittipaldo, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

For many rookies, the most difficult transition from college to the NFL is not matching up physically with the competition. It's learning a new system and comprehending more intricate schemes.

One reason rookie cornerback William Gay, a fifth-round pick out of Louisville, has risen up the depth chart so quickly with the Steelers has been his ability to digest Dick LeBeau's defense.

"One thing I've noticed about him ever since he got here is how much of a student of the game he is," said starting cornerback Deshea Townsend, the elder statesman of the secondary. "That really impressed me a lot. He was able to come in here and get the concept of the defense down quickly.

"When you can learn the nickel and play the corner ... that's pretty tough to do in your first year. You usually just learn to play one position. But he was able to come in and learn the nickel pretty quick. That impressed me."

Gay surpassed veteran Ricardo Colclough on the depth chart and earned the job as the nickel cornerback in last week's 21-0 victory against Seattle. Gay played a big part in the shutout. He covered Deion Branch and Nate Burleson, two established NFL veterans, and did not allow any big plays.

"That shows how much confidence the coaches have in him, to put him in there in that situation against Seattle, a team with good receivers," safety Ryan Clark said. "He's doing well, man. The thing is he's picking up the defense, which can be a difficult scheme to pick up at times. He's really contributing."

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was impressed with what he saw from Gay in his first opportunity at extended playing time. Gay had already caught the coach's eye with his stellar play on special teams.

"I thought William Gay played well, particularly in the course of the kicking game," Tomlin said. "He's starting to prove that he's a very reliable guy in that area. But he's a very reliable guy on defense as well. He's shown maturity beyond his years. He put in a very solid performance."

Gay could be the No. 3 cornerback again next week at Denver if Bryant McFadden does not recover from his high ankle sprain. McFadden did not dress against Seattle.

Gay was surprised the Seahawks did not try to attack him more than they did. Quarterback Matt Hasselback barely threw his way.

"I think I did fairly well," said Gay, 5 feet 10, 190 pounds. "I went out there and did the assignments the coaches told me to do. I just went out on the field and did what I did in practice. It worked out."

Was he surprised that Mike Holmgren did not test him more?

"During the game I didn't think about it like that," he said. "I was just doing my job, covering my man. After we looked at film, Coach was surprised that they didn't come after me like he thought they would. He thought they would come after me on every third down, every time I was in there. I don't know what game plan they had. But different teams will see that and come after me. I just have to be ready to make plays."

The Steelers held Branch to two receptions for 14 yards before he left with an injury. Burleson had one reception for 7 yards. Gay is eagerly waiting for his number to be called again.

"It put a smile on my face when I knew I could get out there and cover some of the top names in the league," he said. "I just want to progress and continue to get better. Each week I have to prepare for anything. Coach always says, 'This is the NFL. You have to be prepared for anything.' Whatever happens next week, I'm ready to step up and be a part of the defense."

NOTES -- Tomlin had his players report to the indoor facility for practice at 10:30 a.m. yesterday. After a quick walk-through, Tomlin called the players over and held up a hand-drawn picture of a bone. Every player knew what that meant: No practice. "It was crazy," cornerback Ike Taylor said. "That was something new to me. If he says we're practicing, we're practicing. In training camp, we asked him to throw a dog a bone. He never did, but he threw us a bone today." Said running back Willie Parker: "A lot of us thought he would give us this day off. If not, he would go down as the grittiest coach ever." ... Tomlin worked his team in full pads Tuesday and Wednesday, a change from seasons past during the off week. The team will return Monday to begin preparations for Denver.

I know most of us were hoping we'd take another CB in the draft earlier than the 5th round but Gay has really paid off big for us early on in the season. The dude started making plays in preseason and hasn't looked back since. With the inconsistent Coc still on the roster it's good to know we have WG ready to go and be a contributor for us.

10-12-2007, 12:40 PM
He's been really impressive thus far. To be perfectly honest though, does it take much to move up the depth chart to pass Ricardo? That's probably just my opinion but I haven't like Ricardo since the Cardinals Steelers preseason game in 2006. I keyed in on him while he was on the field and every time the ball was thrown his way he acted like he should have had an interception :dunno:

Any how... for Matty H. not to try and pick on Gay is definitely a statement unless of course Matty was trying to get back at Ike from the Super Bowl and thought he might have been shot with all the drama that has transpired the last year around Ike... If anything all it did was give Gay more confidence and Ike at the same time because Ike had a killer game!

black an gold 4 life
10-12-2007, 01:17 PM
i think gay can b an dominate cb n this league, because 4 an rookie 2 come n here n our defense an jump up the depth chart like he has says alot about him, as along as he continue 2 work hard an learn the postion, he's gonna make an name 4 himself n the nfl, plus it's obvious mike tomlin knows how 2 pick cb's look at what he did with the tampa cb's when they won the superbowl n 2002,that speaks 4 itself good job again mike!!!!!

K Train
10-12-2007, 01:45 PM
as a rookie passing cocface is impressive, coface has shown flashes believe it or not.

But not just that, he has been impressive since day one, all camp, all preseason and its carried into the regular season.

you say so what, he passes cocface...no big deal, but would you want cocface covering branch and burleson last week....i didnt think so

this guy is good, hes a playmaker and is crazy on ST

10-12-2007, 02:00 PM
The kid has been very impressive so far.

Black@Gold Forever32
10-12-2007, 05:22 PM
Well I liked the Gay pick from the start.....I like the fact he had nose for the football....He isn't the fastest guy in the world but his instincts let him play faster then he really is....Plus he can play special teams....I don't see Pro Bowls for Gay in the future but I think he can develop into a solid 3rd corner in the NFL and maybe even a number 2......

K Train
10-12-2007, 05:41 PM
seriously dude, there was better ways to start that sentence lol.

i think he could end up being something special, alot of people cant say that about a 5th round pick, and for good reason, but imo hes been more impressive than guys like leon hall, darrell revis, chris houston....im not saying hes champ bailey but i think he could do good things for us

10-12-2007, 06:42 PM
Well I liked the Gay pick from the start.....I like the fact he had nose for the football....He isn't the fastest guy in the world but his instincts let him play faster then he really is....Plus he can play special teams....I don't see Pro Bowls for Gay in the future but I think he can develop into a solid 3rd corner in the NFL and maybe even a number 2......


You just can't survive in the today's NFL without 3 solid CB's because more and more teams are getting so many quality weapons on offense that when you go into your dime defense or if one of your starters goes down you've got to have a quality 3rd CB to jump in, Gay is that guy for us which is something we haven't had in a long time.