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High-Potential Steelers CBs Receive First-Team Reps at Practice



Steelers CB Darius Rush Depth Chart
Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Darius Rush at practice on Oct. 18, 2023. -- Alan Saunders / Steelers Now

PITTSBURGH — The Steelers shook up the cornerback rotation on Friday. Amid multiple injuries in the secondary, both young cornerbacks, Darius Rush and Luq Barcoo, confirmed that they received first-team reps in practice on Friday. Levi Wallace and Joey Porter Jr. are dealing with injuries that could cause them to miss Sunday’s game against the Jaguars.

For Barcoo, this would be his first game of the season if he is elevated. He said that he is preparing to play like he would any week. He does not yet know if he will play against the Jaguars and be elevated. Barcoo will find that out tomorrow. But he is excited to get a look, possibly.

“Coaches are a big believer in preparing like you are playing, even if you are not,” Barcoo said. “So, that’s what I’ve been doing week by week. I’ve been watching tape of other teams, other opponents, and staying in my playbook. So, if that opportunity presents itself, I’m ready to go. That’s how this business goes, I am ready to go. I’m more than ready to go or not. A lot of guys are banged up and it looks like a high probability of me being out there.”

Wallace is dealing with a foot injury. Porter has a calf injury. Both of those guys were limited on Thursday. Their participation opened the window for other guys. Rush became a huge benefactor of that. Despite only being in Pittsburgh for just over a week, Rush might play a lot. If that happens, the Steelers will play a young cornerback with little experience in a considerable spot.

Steelers CB Luq Barcoo

Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Luq Barcoo at OTAs, May 31, 2023. — Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

“It’s took a long week of preparation to get here, and getting into the playbook since I’ve been here and getting an opportunity when I have the opportunity to take those reps, I have to make sure I know what I’m doing.” Rush said. “So, that takes a lot of preparation and leaning on the vet guys to get into those spots, along with Coach Brown helping me out along the way. It’s allowed me to learn the playbook, and it’s my responsibility to play in those situations and execute.”

Rush views the first team reps as a show of confidence from the staff in him to play already. There is no reason for him not to play to a standard in those dime packages, even if the team knows Rush has not been there for long. So, Rush vows to play up to the standard they want him to play out of the gate.

“I have to meet expectations,” Rush said. “That’s the standard I’m supposed to play at. It”s the standard I’m going to play at every time I’m between the white lines. If they feel I wasn’t prepared, they wouldn’t have me out here. They showed confidence in me, so I have to show confidence in myself. It’s up to me to go out there and make plays and execute at a high level.”

So, Pittsburgh will wait for the injury report, but they have two young players they hope can fill in if they need them to play. Rush is at the top of the list, but Barcoo has intriguing traits, too.