View Full Version : Numbers don't add up to Pro Bowl invitation

Galax Steeler
08-22-2009, 07:31 AM
Ike Taylor earned his two championship rings as the Steelers' best cornerback during their second Super Bowl era. Now, he's turning a little selfish.

"I'd like to get to the Pro Bowl, at least one time," Taylor said. "I got two rings and hopefully we can strive for the third one. My personal goal is to catch the ball and go to the Super Bowl."

Catching the ball, he knows, would help put him in a Pro Bowl. Taylor gets his hands on the football often enough -- what he does not do so much is hang onto it.

He has only 11 interceptions in his career, including three in the postseason. His biggest came in Super Bowl XL, a pickoff at the Steelers' 5 in the second half with his team ahead, 14-10.

He knows, however, he could have had many more interceptions and those are what often draw the attention of Pro Bowl voters. He had a career high of three in 2007.

"Just concentrate. That's all it is with me, just concentrate, looking a ball all the way in, that's all it is," Taylor said. "All you have to do is take your eye off the ball for a split second and that will throw everything off."

Taylor and other starters will not get many opportunities again tonight when the Steelers play their second preseason game, against the Washington Redskins in Landover, Md. Coach Mike Tomlin said his starters will play possibly a little more than the first quarter.

There are many Pro Bowl players among those starters, including Hines Ward, Willie Parker, Aaron Smith, Ben Roethlisberger, James Harrison, James Farrior, Casey Hampton and Troy Polamalu.

There are three others who could join that list or whose teammates believe should be on it: Taylor, tight end Heath Miller and wide receiver Santonio Holmes, the Super Bowl XLIII MVP. In all cases, statistics, not necessarily performance, have held them back.

For Taylor, it's the lack of interceptions. Miller and Holmes have not produced the kinds of receiving stats voters want to see.

That could change for Holmes as he grows into the job as a No. 1 receiver. But Miller's receiving numbers might not get much better than his 48 and 47 catches in the past two seasons. The Steelers never have thrown toward their tight ends as often as some other NFL teams -- Eric Green caught a team-record for the position with 63 in 1993 -- and that's not about to change.

Miller might be the rare tight end in the league who is counted on to block and catch but Pro Bowl voters do not seem to take that into account. They want to see numbers, and NFL statisticians have not yet quantified run-blocking and pass protection.

"You can say that, yeah, that's just kind of what the voting is based on," Miller said. "I just try to focus on helping this team and being the best player I can."

Miller, who signed a six-year contract for $35.3 million before training camp opened, does not stay up at night thinking about making the Pro Bowl.

"When I sit down at the start of every year, it's not really on my mind. Obviously, if that happens it would be icing on the cake but more Super Bowl rings would be much better."

Holmes has a Super Bowl MVP to go along with his ring. But the competition for the Pro Bowl at his position is intense. His 55 receptions ranked 29th in the AFC, more than half off Houston's Andre Johnson, who led the NFL with 115. Holmes' 821 yards ranked 20th.

So it may be that neither Holmes nor Miller will ever make a Pro Bowl. It's more realistic for Taylor; all he must do is catch the ball.

Before he switched to cornerback in his final season at Louisiana-Lafayette in 2002, Taylor was a halfback, walking on in '01 after not playing football his first two years of college. He caught 18 passes for 125 yards at halfback.

As a cornerback, though, he said: "Your mindset changes for some reason. I can't tell you why or how, but it changes when you're on offense."

Taylor has played well enough that defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau long ago began assigning him to a top receiver rather than have him stay at his given position of right cornerback (although the Steelers' depth chart continues to list him as the starting left cornerback).

He has been the best cornerback on the best defense in the NFL, and while he would like to earn a Pro Bowl, he said he would rather go to another Super Bowl.

"I've been fortunate to have two under my belt," Taylor said. "Guys play 12 years and don't even have one."


08-22-2009, 08:34 AM
God, I love these guys! Unsung heroes, (As far as the pro bowl voting goes.) all of them! And yet the main focus is the team, not necessarily getting the numbers needed to get voter's attention.

08-22-2009, 08:52 AM
He is better off at this point because he won't be targeted. Granted his hands are like granite, but he is there when we need him. The SB rings speak for themselves and are all the accolades he needs in the City of Champions.

08-22-2009, 11:16 AM
i would definitely like to see him finish his career with at least one Pro Bowl under his belt.. being the #1 CB on at least two Super Bowl winning teams and consistently shutting down the league's top wide receivers should mean something. i know he had that one off year in 2006, but so did everyone else. ever since then and during the 2005 season he has been as consistent and reliable as they come.

08-22-2009, 11:22 AM
The SB rings speak for themselves and are all the accolades he needs in the City of Champions.

Agreed, especially since the Pro Bowl has become nothing more than a popularity contest and a joke anyway.

08-22-2009, 03:46 PM
He is better off at this point because he won't be targeted. Granted his hands are like granite, but he is there when we need him. The SB rings speak for themselves and are all the accolades he needs in the City of Champions.

Exactly. :applaudit::drink:

Also - as Gary said above, the Pro Bowl has turned into nothing more than a popularity contest, just as other sports' supposed "best of the best" have. I stopped watching the Pro Bowl, MLB All-Star Game and NHL All Star Game years ago because I'm not into the high schoolish popularity game. :jerkit:

Ike's play speaks for itself and we're damned fortunate to have him in the black 'n gold. :tt03: