CB Blake Just Might Belong

He's playing like he's been in the Steelers' secondary for years. But Antwon Blake says we haven't seen anything yet.

Early last week, Mike Tomlin told cornerback Antwon Blake to stop looking over at him.

"I see what you're doing 41," Tomlin reassured him.

All eyes have been on Blake since defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau told reporters on draft day that his cornerback answer could be in-house.

That meant either Blake – last year's best punt gunner – or Brice McClain, the bargain-basement free agent with 4.3 speed.

It was Blake who opened OTAs as the No. 3, in the slot, and with the return of Ike Taylor on Tuesday, Blake confirmed that he's now the No. 4.

"Right. But I'm a fierce competitor," said Blake. "My mindset is to work my way to No. 1."

Blake truly believes he can shock the world some day as a No. 1 corner. And, frankly, he looked like it covering speedster Darrius Heyward-Bey on a go pattern Tuesday. Blake ran with DH-B and actually should've intercepted the pass.

"Way to run back there," shouted LeBeau, the coordinator's hawk eyes locked on the 5-9, 198-pound corner.

The book on Blake is that he's a core special-teamer who's had a few defensive snaps and has been in the right place. "He has a chance," said one Steelers scout.

Blake has the smarts to be in the right place, but does he have the speed to play corner? Well, just say he's not short on confidence in that department.

"I believe I'm one of the fastest players in the league," Blake said. "Unofficially at my pro day I ran a 4.18, just to put that out there. If you look online they average the times together so something different might pop up. But to me I feel once I'm on the field and my adrenaline's going, it doesn't matter if I'm in pads or shorts I'm going to run with anybody."

Blake's range according to NFLDraftScout.com is 4.22 to 4.48. If he did run a 4.18, no one used it to draft him out of UTEP.

A two-year starter with only one interception, Blake was signed after the 2012 draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars because of the way he played gunner at UTEP.

Blake played in all 16 games with Jacksonville and was second on the team with 13 special-teams tackles. He was waived last September and claimed by the Steelers, where he finished second in special-teams tackles again, this time to Robert Golden with 11.

Blake hasn't been part of a winning team since his high school days in Houston, but he sees that changing this year.

"Oh yeah. we've got a chance to make it to the end of the season and be holding up that trophy," he said.

Last year, Blake was part of only five defensive snaps. He did break up a first-and-15 pass on the Detroit Lions' final series in a Steelers win, but otherwise Blake didn't make a play in the secondary.

He'll need a few of those, of course, if he wants to shock the world some day as a No. 1 corner.

"I feel like I can," Blake said. "When that day does come, a lot of people will be surprised. But I'll know that I've been putting in the work to do that."

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