PITTSBURGH – The question prompted a smile from Ike Taylor. The smile said more than the answer.
Do you -- Taylor was asked -- blame last year on your performance or that you slipped into somebody’s doghouse?
That’s when Taylor smiled.
“Last year was last year,” he said. “This is 2007. The season’s approaching. I’m glad to be back.”
He’s back with a new coach and a new secondary coach. Does he view it as a breath of fresh air? A new start?
“I’m just glad to be back playing football,” he said.
His young partner in the secondary, another player coming off his worst pro season, elaborated.
“Yeah, it’s a fresh start,” said Ricardo Colclough. “Coming off of last year, a lot of people had their doubts about me, but now we have pretty much a new coaching staff and it’s a fresh start for me. It’ll probably be in my favor a little bit.”
That’s what Taylor’s smile said, but he’s in his fifth year and knows it’s better to keep quiet. Colclough is entering his fourth year. He’s already the quiet guy, the forgotten guy, and he knows he’s at rock bottom and can only go up.
“I’m still here and even though you knock me down I’m going to get back up and keep fighting,” Colclough said. “It’ll be a shock to everybody for me to just go out and show up. I feel it. I feel a great year coming.”
That’s what new Coach Mike Tomlin, a former defensive backs coach with Tampa Bay, wants to hear.
“He’s a guy that’s on the come. He has to be,” Tomlin said of Colclough. “To be quite honest, he’s a guy that’s kind of in a contract year. It’s time for him to define what kind of career he’s going to have. He’s aware of that. We’ve had that conversation and he’s intending on doing the same thing.”
And Tomlin’s evaluation of Taylor? Can he still be a good cornerback?
“Absolutely. Absolutely,” Tomlin said. “He has great physical talent. He has the desire to be great. Based on my experience with him thus far, his actions match his words in terms of being what he wants to be. All he’s got to do is cross the threshold of that door on a daily basis with that attitude and he’s got a shot.”
It sounds as if Tomlin intends to give his highly drafted young cornerbacks a full opportunity to show their wares. Along with Deshea Townsend and Bryant McFadden, the Pittsburgh Steelers may have enough talent and potential and won’t draft a cornerback next weekend. Is that good news for Taylor?
He smiled again.
“I’ve just got to play ball,” he said. “I’m not upstairs. I’m not here to see who we draft. I’m just here to play football.”
By Jim Wexell
Posted Apr 20, 2007