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Ike Taylor, Training Regimen, No Offers from other Teams
Ike likes Disney World
By Joe Bendel
Monday, March 27, 2006
ORLANDO -- Ike Taylor did not win the MVP of Super Bowl XL, but he still went to Disney World.
And he hasn't left.
The Steelers cornerback arrived here four days after the Steelers' 21-10 victory over the Seattle Seahawks to train with renowned conditioning guru Tom Shaw at the palatial Wide World of Sports at Disney World.
"I could have taken a break, but I didn't want to let myself do that," Taylor said Sunday, his lone day off here. "The way I look at it is -- there's a draft every year, and in that draft, there's a guy who wants to take my job. I want to be the best. I don't want anybody taking my job."
Taylor trains a minimum of five hours a day, six days a week with Shaw, who's developed 77 first-round draft picks and is working with Steelers linebacker James Farrior, Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Shawn Barber and safety Darren Sharper of the Minnesota Vikings, among others.
Taylor's grueling regimen consists of speed and conditioning drills, lifting weights, training in state-of-the-art swimming pools and working on football-specific movements. The sparkling training facility is used by the Atlanta Braves and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Taylor has not missed a workout since completing a 2005 season that saw him tie for the NFL lead in pass breakups with 25, while also contributing 95 tackles (the most by a Steelers cornerback since Rod Woodson in 1992). He also held 18 of the 20 wide receivers he faced without a touchdown, and two of his three interceptions (counting the postseason) occurred in the AFC Championship Game and the Super Bowl.
One of Taylor's missions this offseason is to improve on his interception numbers. He estimates he dropped up to 12 last season, which is why he catches 100 or more passes a day out of a JUGS gun.
"There are days that I'd rather not do this, just like I'm sure there are days for people in the business world when they'd rather not get up and go to work," said Taylor, who was clocked at 4.34 seconds immediately after the season. "But you have to be focused; you have to be hungry. That's where my thoughts about the draft come in. I know I need to keep getting better."
Taylor, 6-foot-1, 191 pounds, signed a one-year, $1.55 million tender as a restricted free agent with the Steelers earlier this month. That assured the Steelers that they would receive a first-round draft pick as compensation if another team signs Taylor to an offer sheet and the Steelers decide not to match it.
There is interest in Taylor around the league. Kansas City and New England are two franchises that would like to fortify their cornerback position and could risk a first-round draft pick -- they select 20 and 21, respectively -- for a player of Taylor's skills.
No team, however, has made an offer. And history suggests that it could remain that way. The most recent time a team signed a restricted free agent with a high tender such as Taylor's was in 2003, when the Washington Redskins signed wideout Laveranues Coles from the New York Jets.
The deadline for Taylor to sign an offer sheet from another team is April 21.
Taylor would like to receive a long-term deal from the Steelers at some point, but he appreciates the business side of the NFL.
"It's a great feeling to know that I'm in a position that another team, maybe, would be willing to give up something to try to get me, but I'm not worried about that," Taylor said. "I want to be a consistent football player and known as a great cornerback.
"I love the coaching staff in Pittsburgh. I love the Rooney family and coach (Bill) Cowher, and his staff has been great to me. I have no reason to leave. But it's definitely a business, and that's how you have to look at things."
Taylor's agent, Scott Smith of X-A-M Sports, said Taylor has set his sights on staying with the Steelers, but he added that "we have received inquiries from several teams about Ike as a free agent."
"I don't like to deal in speculation, but we are hopeful and optimistic that Ike can reach a long-term agreement with the Steelers this year," Smith said.
Shaw, who works around the clock here, began working with Taylor when the latter was a middle-school student in New Orleans. Shaw said Taylor is one of the more unique players he's trained, not only because of his on-field skills, but how he conducts himself away from the game.
"He wants to win another Super Bowl; he has that drive in him," Shaw said yesterday from the Wide World of Sports facilities. "I was with the Patriots the last six years, and players from other teams would see those guys coming in right after the Super Bowl and say, 'They're starting already?'
"Well, the players on the Patriots learned what it takes to come back and (repeat). After they won that first Super Bowl, there were guys saying, 'We were just here; now, we have to do it again?' But after they went 9-7 following that first Super Bowl, they learned they had to work harder and sooner. That's when they won another one, and that's when we had no problems getting back to work.
"That's the way Ike and James Farrior are approaching this. They want to get right back to the Super Bowl."