The seeds for a rivalry between Curtis Brown and Cortez Allen were planted early.
Selected one round apart by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2011 NFL draft, the cornerbacks found themselves fighting for playing time — and a roster spot — on a defense that isn't the easiest to learn.
Brown, a third-round pick, played at Texas. Allen, who went a round later, played at The Citadel, far from the bright lights of big-time college football.
Coach Mike Tomlin admits he "pitted" the two youngsters against one another.
The Steelers (7-5) will see how well the ploy worked on Sunday, when Allen and Brown will get extensive playing time against San Diego (4-8) because veteran cornerback Ike Taylor is out with an injury for the first time in eight years.