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BlitzburghRockCity 09-15-2005 11:32 PM

Taylor earns another start..**Update now takes over starting CB spot

Taylor turns himself into perfect fit at CB

Friday, September 16, 2005
By Ray Fittipaldo, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Ike Taylor has emerged as the starter at left cornerback. Taylor, who started in place of the injured Willie Williams in the opener Sunday against Tennessee, earned another start because he played so well, Steelers coach Bill Cowher said yesterday.

"Ike has played well enough to this point that I feel comfortable with him being out there," Cowher said.

Taylor, a 6-foot-1, 191-pound third-year player out of Louisiana-Lafayette, delivered a solid performance in his third career start against the Titans.

He recovered a fumble that was forced by James Farrior in the second quarter and returned it eight yards to set up the Steelers' second score, a 44-yard field goal by Jeff Reed. He also finished with a career-high 10 tackles. He was credited with eight after the game, but picked up two more after the coaches reviewed the game tape.

"Our corners have to be able to come up in run support or we're not going to get on the field," Taylor said. "I feel like I did all right. There's a whole lot of room for improvement. I'm just taking it game by game. But I think I did all right."

Taylor said things started coming together for him during the voluntary coaching sessions in the spring. He had earned his NFL paycheck his first two seasons by playing special teams and in nickel and dime defensive packages.

"It's starting to click," Taylor said. "I've just tried to run with it from there. As a corner, you have to play every down, every snap."

When the Steelers drafted Taylor in 2003, the word most associated with him was potential. Taylor had the size, speed and athleticism to become a starting cornerback in the National Football League. But what he didn't have was experience. Taylor played one season in college as a cornerback, and that came in the Sun Belt Conference, a low-level Division I brand of football.

"He'll be the first to tell you he still has a ways to go yet," secondary coach Darren Perry said. "He is progressing well. He is much more mature. He looks a lot more comfortable out there. He's not thinking as much. "

Williams, the 13-year veteran who started 10 games last season after Chad Scott went down with a knee injury, isn't surprised by Taylor's progress.

"From Day One, I told everybody to watch out for Ike because he had the talent and skills to be a good corner," Williams said."

ironcitychef 09-15-2005 11:43 PM

Re: Taylor earns another start
Well deserved despite some mistakes. He is one of many young guys who will make our secondary the flip image of that swiss cheese we had back there a few years ago.

BlitzburghRockCity 09-15-2005 11:50 PM

Re: Taylor earns another start
Yeah I was starting to doubt him after we were looking for him to step up the plate and he didnt have a particularly good season..but he's definately improved by leaps and bounds so far.

Koopa 09-16-2005 11:20 AM

Re: Taylor earns another start
and don't foget that he didn't play corner until his senior year in college i think that's what they said so he's still growing and i guess this is his make or break year so he's gonna step up to prove that he is worth the wait. i'm glad we got younger at the corner spot. i can't wait till sunday so i can actually see the steelers play instead of following it on the internet. power better not go out again or i'll go to the cpl over here and kick the dude in charge in his left nut.

BlitzburghRockCity 09-17-2005 10:02 AM

Re: Taylor earns another start

illie Williams had to see the writing on the wall.

There aren't too many 34-year-old starting cornerbacks in the NFL.

But with two 23-year old former second-round picks and a highly regarded 25-year-old providing direct competition, it was a matter of time until the 13-year veteran lost his starting job with the Steelers.

That time is now.

Steelers coach Bill Cowher confirmed Thursday Ike Taylor will take over at left cornerback Sunday in Houston.

"Ike will start," Cowher said. "Willie is getting close to 100 percent, but at this point I felt like Ike has played well enough and I feel comfortable with him being out there."

Williams injured his groin late last week in practice and missed the season opener against Tennessee.

Taylor acquitted himself nicely against the Titans, recording a team-high 10 tackles, defending one pass and recovering a fumble.

"He played very well," Cowher said. "He did a lot of good things; he tackled very well. I thought he had a very solid game."

Williams said he accepts the decision made by his head coach.

"You have to live with it and go on your way," he said. "I don't have time to walk around here moping because I am not playing.

"If I do come back and they decide to keep Ike out there then that's fine with me. I've been around 13 years and I've been blessed to be able to play that many years. Whatever I can do to help this team win games I'll do."

Williams practiced the last two days and said the groin is much better. But Cowher isn't about to take a chance of putting him on the field unless he's completely healthy.

"No question, playing corner you have to be 100 percent," Williams said. "You have guys who can run fast and you have to run fast too. My main focus right now is getting healthy. I am taking it day by day and by (today), if I feel like I am ready then I'll let the coach know how I feel. If he doesn't think I am ready, then that's his decision."

Williams was signed last year to serve as a mentor to the young corners, but found himself thrown into the starting lineup when Chad Scott was injured. He had a solid season in his second stint with the team, starting 10 games.

In training camp, he held off challenges from Taylor, rookie Bryant McFadden and Ricardo Colclough to retain his job, but then sustained the injury.

"Ike had a very good camp," Cowher said.

Taylor started only the third game of his career last week since being drafted out of Louisiana-Lafayette in the third round in 2003.

He played a lot last season in the nickel and dime packages, taking the place of starter Deshea Townsend when Townsend moved into the slot.

Taylor said getting the start on short notice last week wasn't a problem.

"It's an every day job," he said. "It just depends on when the coach tells you to go in whether it is Monday or the day of the game you still have to be ready."

Taylor, a native of New Orleans, has had his mind on other things lately. His house along the Mississippi River sustained minor damage during Hurricane Katrina.

"There is going to be a lot of people (back home watching) and I know they are going to critique me," Taylor said. "I have to do my best because I know after the game they are going to blow my phone up."

Ambridge 09-17-2005 10:09 AM

Re: Taylor earns another start..**Update now takes over starting CB spot
I know Ike was in Cowher's "Dog House" for a while last season so it's good to see him come out and turn things around.

SteelProven 09-17-2005 10:42 AM

Re: Taylor earns another start..**Update now takes over starting CB spot
This is great to hear and probably next year Coke will be ready to take over for D. Town. I think if we can sure up the FS spot or C. Hope can step his game up. Our secondary will be considered one of the best. So instead of a weakness it'll looked at as a strength.

BlitzburghRockCity 09-17-2005 10:47 AM

Re: Taylor earns another start..**Update now takes over starting CB spot
We're getting younger and younger in the secondary and faster and faster ! We've got great speed back there so nobody is going to run away from us. A far cry from the nursing home staff we had back there several yearsago who couldnt even run down an ice cream truck !

I wouldnt look for Deshea to be supplanted anytime soon. He's the best cover corner we have and he was all over the field last week, constantly shutting down the deep ball no matter how many times McNair tried. He's finally getting his shot, and he's definately taking advantage of it.

clevestinks 09-17-2005 04:34 PM

Re: Taylor earns another start..**Update now takes over starting CB spot
Wow! Just a month ago we were wondering if this would be his last year in the Black & Gold. Now if McFadden or Coc comes on, then we have some corners that will be around for awhile.

BlitzburghRockCity 09-17-2005 06:14 PM

Re: Taylor earns another start..**Update now takes over starting CB spot
Yeah Im anxious to see McFadden in game situations...its gonna be a tough camp next year w/ coc, townsend, and McFadden and taylor all playing for the top spots !! We've got one helluva secondary all of the sudden !

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