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Aug 19, 2012; Pittsburgh , PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Cortez Allen (28) returns an interception against the Indianapolis Colts during the first half of the game at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Steelers starting cornerback Cortez Allen didn’t practice for a third consecutive day because of a sprained ankle. That means his participation Saturday will be critical day if the third-year veteran is to play Monday night vs the Cincinnati Bengals.

If Allen does not play against the Bengals, William Gay will start at opposite Pro Bowler Ike Taylor, and rookie safety Shamarko Thomas will again play nickel back.

Allen was drafted by the Steelers in the fourth round (128th overall) of the 2011 NFL Draft, and has developed into a solid starting CB, who is serviceable in booth pass coverage and run defense. He had high expectations entering the year, and made his first career start in the season opener, but left the game in the second quarter with a left ankle injury and did not return.

Allen finished the 2012 season on fire, as he caused five turnovers in the final two games of the season (two interceptions, three forced fumbles). He has 10 career pass defenses and 2 interceptions.