New Cowboys safety Will Allen remembers his first lesson when he got to the Steelers: you better hit.
“The first thing Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu and Ike Taylor and those guys said to me, when I walked in the defensive back room, was if you don’t stick your face in the thing, you can’t be on this defense,” he said. “If you aren’t ready to hit – we don’t care about interceptions – if you aren’t ready to hit, we don’t need you.”
That’s the attitude he now wants to bring to the Cowboys when they put on pads in training camp in Oxnard next month.
“That’s a mentality,” Allen said, talking to reporters Wednesday at Valley Ranch. “If you aren’t trying to hit, you can forget about it. So that’s my mentality at all costs. I don’t really care. That’s the mentality that they have there, and hopefully I can bring that here and get some guys to follow.”
New defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin’s 4-3 scheme will ask for physicalness out of the defense, particularly the cornerbacks and certainly the safeties.
Allen knows because he played for Kiffin for five years in Tampa Bay before going to Pittsburgh.
“When we get pads on, that’s something we’re going to have to pride ourselves on,” he said. “That’s just a creed we have to live by as a defensive back room and as a defense. Not only do we have to play hard, we have to hit hard and be mean, too. That’s one thing I learned – those Pittsburgh guys are mean on the field, to everybody. It’s not just taboo. It’s not something you just say. You really believe it. You really mean it. It’s your mind set. This is your life.
“Cause everybody’s accountable to each other. And hopefully we can build that same accountability here on the back end, everybody from Brandon Carr to Mo Claiborne. I don’t care how you bring them down, but we’re going to hit.”
-- Carlos Mendez