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."