Steelers notebook: Ramped-up defense impresses veteran Taylor

| Tuesday, June 3, 2014, 7:45 p.m.

Ike Taylor was absent for the initial week of organized team activities, meaning that Tuesday was the first time the veteran cornerback was able to personally see the new-look Steelers defense.

Taylor's immediate takeaway?

“Super-duper fast,” he said.

Taylor has been in the league for 11 years and has seen the Steelers transform from an aging defense to a unit overflowing with speed, especially over the past four years.

The Steelers went from having eight 30-year olds on defense to start the 2011 season to only two projected starters this year – Taylor and safety Troy Polamalu.

The Steelers let go three aging defenders this past offseason — Larry Foote, Ryan Clark and Brett Keisel.

Taylor said he did get a heads up about the new speedy defense from teammate William Gay.

“Gay texted me all last week saying, ‘Hey man, I am telling you it's like a track meet on defense, from the defensive line all the way back to the secondary. These boys are running,' ” Taylor said. “When you look at it on the field and you actually play with them, you can see that they are running.”

• Rookie running backDri Archer took part in his first OTA session after missing last week because of a combination of him being sick and obligated to take part in the NFLPA Rookie Premier in Los Angeles. “It was something that I had to do,” Archer said. “I would have much rather been here on the football field learning the playbook, but it was something I had to do.” Archer was chosen for the three-day event and even if he would have decided to skip it, he wouldn't have been permitted to attend OTAs anyway. The missed week of practice left Archer a little behind. “I am in my playbook right now and getting mental reps when I am not playing trying to get better,” Archer said.

• Typically, you don't see fighting until training camp, but two first-year Steelers resembled a pair of desperate heavyweight fighters exchanging right hooks. Linebacker Vic So'oto and guardWill Simmons engaged in a skirmish that resulted in a number of alternating head shots. “It was one of those plays where someone was trying to act tough,” So'oto said. “There are some things that you just don't take. It was fun.”

• If Landry Jones has any chance of beating out Bruce Gradkowski for the backup quarterback job, he is going to do it with a glove on. Jones said that he will wear a glove on his throwing hand at all times now including practice. “I think I am making the switch,” Jones said. “Last year I didn't want to wear it but the weather and raining all the time and the cold, I threw with it a couple days during practice and really liked it. I didn't see any point switching back-and-forth so I might as well go for it.” Jones said he never wore a glove while at Oklahoma but did experiment with it in high school a little bit.

• Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger missed Tuesday's voluntary OTA session because of a family matter while Polamalu missed his fourth straight and isn't expected to show up until mandatory minicamp June 17-19.Jason Worilds worked out with the training staff but did not participate in his third consecutive session with a leg injury he suffered last week.

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