View Full Version : Taylor wins back his corner job after overhaul

08-24-2007, 01:05 AM
All the inspiration cornerback Ike Taylor needed when coach Bill Cowher benched him in November came 32 years earlier.

That's when defensive coordinator Bud Carson benched Mel Blount in the middle of the AFC championship game. It occurred after Oakland receiver Cliff Branch caught a 38-yard touchdown pass over Blount to give the Raiders a 10-3 lead in the third quarter.

The Steelers won that game, 24-13, and Blount criticized Carson for benching him. The coordinator waited for a while before publicly deciding Blount would start in Super Bowl IX.

The Steelers, of course, would go on to win that Super Bowl and three others with Blount as their starting right cornerback, and Blount would go on to Pro Football Hall of Fame induction.

The moral of that story: There's no shame in a cornerback getting benched.

"Somebody else told me that story," said Taylor, who has talked with Blount. "We all go through things. What makes the person the person is how they respond."

Blount said that is precisely how Taylor should approach it.

"It's a growing thing you go through," Blount said. "It makes you look at what you've been doing and how you're doing it. A lot of great players have been pulled at one time or another."

Coach Mike Tomlin firmly reinstalled Taylor as his starting left cornerback. The rest will be up to him and, according to his coaches, so far so good.

"There is no difference in him. He just went back to the drawing board," said secondary coach Ray Horton.

"Someone once asked Ben Hogan about the secrets of golf. He said it's in the dirt. You go back to the dirt and you practice, you practice, you practice.

"Ike's working in the dirt again."

It's called technique, technique, technique. Taylor spent much of the offseason working on playing with a low pad level. In layman's terms, that's bending more at the knees.

"I'm a tall corner," said Taylor, who stands 6 feet 1. "I have to play like a short corner. They can change directions pretty quick because they're already short so they can get in and get out. I have the quickness of a short corner. It's just me playing at a certain pad level."

That's what Tomlin, who spent his first five years in the NFL as Tampa Bay's secondary coach, told him.

"I always work on technique every offseason," Taylor said. "This year, I emphasized staying low."

Things could not have been much higher and sunk much lower for Taylor in 2006. He ended his first season as a starting cornerback with an interception in February to help seal the Steelers' 21-10 Super Bowl victory against Seattle.

Four days before the new season started in September, Taylor signed a five-year, $22.5 million contract with a $6.4 million signing bonus. It made him the highest paid defensive back in Steelers history before safety Troy Polamalu signed his new deal this summer.

Two and a half months later, Taylor was benched for poor performance. A cornerback who often was assigned to cover the opponent's best receiver found himself replaced by Bryant McFadden in the middle of November.

It was humbling.

"It hurt," Taylor said. "I wanted to be out there with the 11 guys. But last year is last year, it's over with."

Horton believes all the success and the Super Bowl victory made Taylor feel invincible, and he forgot what got him there in the first place. He wasn't alone in that respect as the Steelers slumped to 8-8, something many attribute to a Super Bowl haze.

"I think all of us did, to an extent," Horton said. "You're walking on Cloud 9.

"If you never experienced it, you don't know what it is to be at that level, to win the ultimate prize, where he played very well in that game -- the attention, the accolades started coming his way. Sometimes you have to be focused, you have to be grounded -- 'I want to be continually talked about, not just a one-year wonder.'

"As a young player, its hard not to. You're getting attention, shutting guys down, and you're winning."

Taylor wants that feeling again. He said he did not rest on his laurels as much as he rested on his athletic ability instead of technique last season. He wants to guard the other team's best receiver again and experience all those things that happened to him and his team in 2005.

"All the way to the top, that's my goal," said Taylor. "And when y'all mention elite corners, my name is mentioned."


i think ike will bounce back big this year and be even better then he was in 05.....damn i can't wait till the real season starts lol

08-24-2007, 02:24 AM
Ike definitely had a down year last year and I too think we'll see the Ike of 05! :cope: Plus with Smith watching his back that whole secondary will be awesome :D

08-24-2007, 05:59 AM
Im happy for Ike, after last year I wasn't sure he'd ever fully recover and live up to the expectations we all had for him and Im sure he had for himself. He's shown that with a fair shake he's got the ability to be a solid corner for us.

Now we just need to see how well McFadden is going to do if he'll secure that job opposite Ike.

08-24-2007, 03:54 PM
I think all he needed was to get his head back on straight. He finally realized that he cannot rely so much on his physical talent alone. With a coach like Mike T. lets hope he does nothing but get better.:tt02::crossfingers:

08-24-2007, 06:07 PM
Lets hope so. Our 3rd down defense hasn't been the sharpest knife in the drawer as of late, but it is pre season and I'm sure we aren't doing, or showing much of anything.

08-24-2007, 07:37 PM
anybody else besides me think that ike was made a scape goat last year for the problems our defense had as a hole? our pass rush seemed to disapear alot too.