Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor already has experienced many of the proverbial highs and lows pro football has to offer.
A little-known fourth-round draft pick in 2003, Taylor became a starter last season and quickly developed into one of the NFL's elite shutdown corners as the Steelers won Super Bowl XL.
A dedicated professional, Taylor celebrated the Super Bowl win by traveling to Orlando, Fla., and immediately beginning his training for the upcoming season.
Three days before the opener against Miami, he signed a four-year extension valued at $23.75 million, according to a source close to the situation, the largest ever for a Steelers defensive back.
Many of the league's top cornerbacks such as Denver's Champ Bailey and Atlanta's DeAngelo Hall are featured in a Cover 2 defense, but Taylor's ability to cover the opponent's top receiver one-one-one separated him from the pack because he could protect half the field all by himself.
Surprisingly, two months after signing the contract, Taylor lost his starting job following subpar performances against Denver, New Orleans and Cleveland.
As he works to win his job back, Taylor, although disappointed and confused as to why he isn't in the starting lineup, exudes confidence and preaches diligence to the task at hand.
He sees the demotion as a stumbling block, nothing more.
He recalls the big plays he made, and realizes that a few bad games can't erase everything he has accomplished.
He remembers where he came from, his difficult upbringing in New Orleans, a city ravaged by Hurricane Katrina, and where many of his family members still live and try to rebuild their lives.