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."