Townsend able to hold onto right cornerback spot
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The competition, if there ever was any, to become the Steelers' right cornerback has ended. It goes to the man who held the office the past 2 1/2 seasons.
Young Bryant McFadden, who kept the Steelers' road to the Super Bowl alive with a slap to a Peyton Manning pass, did not so much fail to unseat Deshea Townsend, 30, as those efforts this summer reaffirmed just how good the veteran plays the position.
McFadden, entering his second season, is the kind of cornerback the Steelers have long sought -- young, fast, aggressive, around the ball and hard to beat. Yet they have just such a cornerback in Townsend. On many Steelers teams of the past, McFadden would be a starter, but not on this one.
"It's going to be hard to beat out Deshea," secondary coach Darren Perry said, diplomatically, yesterday.
It took the Steelers 5 1/2 seasons after they drafted Townsend in the fourth round to discover him. That's when their No. 3 cornerback finally earned a shot at starting, in the middle of the 2003 season when he replaced an injured Chad Scott at left cornerback. He remained there once Scott returned to health, then moved to right cornerback in 2004 after Dewayne Washington was released.
The competition that was supposed to surface at right cornerback this summer may have ended in mid-March, when the Steelers talked Townsend away from the New England Patriots. Townsend, an unrestricted free agent for less than a week, sat in the office of Patriots personnel boss Scott Pioli for two hours talking, with a New England contract and a pen sitting on the desk before him.