If there is a competition to be the starter at right cornerback in the Steelers' defense, perhaps someone should tell Bryant McFadden.
While other positions have rotated starters in training camp and preseason games, including in the secondary, McFadden wonders when he will get his turn.
While players such as center Sean Mahan, offensive tackle Willie Colon and safety Anthony Smith have received at least one week to work with their respective first-team units, McFadden is going through another week at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe as the backup to veteran Deshea Townsend at cornerback.
Just as he has every week since the start of training camp.
"That's how it's been since day one," McFadden said. "It's pretty much been that same kind of deal."
And that is not likely to change this week, either, when the Steelers play their third preseason game Saturday night against the Washington Redskins in Landover, Md.
McFadden and Townsend were expected to be among the featured combatants in one of the battles at training camp, along with Smith and Ryan Clark at free safety, Colon and Max Starks at right tackle and Mahan and Chukky Okobi at center. The gauntlet was thrown down by coach Mike Tomlin in the offseason, when he cited right cornerback as one of the positions open for competition.
Instead, Townsend has started both games at right cornerback and continues to work with the first-team defense in practice this week.
"It's my job to go play," Townsend said. "The coaches will make a decision. As long as you see it like that, then you don't worry about the speculation."
Nonetheless, it has caused McFadden, a No. 2 draft choice in 2005, to wonder what happened to the competition.
"I was thinking the same thing," he said. "I really didn't ask any questions. I just come out here and play my best and do what I do. I don't know how it's going to go the rest of camp, but I'm still with the second team."
And it appears it might remain that way for a while.
Tomlin was noncommittal yesterday when asked if McFadden will eventually get a turn with the first-team defense.
"I kind of like the way it's going right now," Tomlin said. "But we'll remain open-minded about that."
Just last week, Tomlin appeared to boost McFadden's chances when he said, "Bryant McFadden is a young guy that's on the rise. He's got starter skills. The other guys, of course, have had solid camps. We're just going to continue to watch that situation develop."
For now, though, McFadden is the team's nickel back, which means he is the extra player in the secondary when the Steelers use five defensive backs. In that scheme, he lines up at right cornerback, and Townsend, a 10-year veteran, moves to the slot to take advantage of his blitzing ability.
Townsend is accustomed to the role: He was the team's nickel back before he became a starter in the second half of the 2003 season.
"When I first came in, that's what I always played, so I'm comfortable at it," Townsend said. "You got to do a lot of talking and you have to get guys lined up in the right spots."
McFadden started nine games last season, including the final seven when Townsend missed two games with an injury and Ike Taylor was benched by former coach Bill Cowher. McFadden also started two other games when Townsend was injured but still played as an extra back in the nickel and dime defense.
McFadden finished tied for the team lead with three interceptions and had a big game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, making 12 tackles and doing something the Steelers had a difficult time performing last season -- stopping a fade pass in the end zone with an interception.
"I didn't come here to always be second-fiddle," McFadden said. "My goal was to learn and get myself prepared to make that next step, which is to be a starter. It's going to happen. That's the way I feel. I'm not really waiting for it. I'm just trying to progress. Whatever happens, happens."