Harris: Taylor's work ethic inspires
There are team leaders, and then there's Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor.
Unofficially, Taylor is the new go-to guy on defense, a high-energy shutdown corner whose animated passion on the field is second to none.
With Deshea Townsend, who turns 34 in September, playing nickel and dime back, Taylor has become the team's veteran starting corner.
Last month, Taylor restructured his contract to help the Steelers re-sign outside linebacker James Harrison to a $51.175 million deal, a franchise record for a defensive player.
Taylor is also tutoring William Gay, who is expected to start opposite Taylor at left corner. Taylor asked Gay to join him in Orlando, Fla., to train with speed and conditioning coach Tom Shaw, and Gay accepted.
At the conclusion of Sunday's mandatory three-day minicamp, Taylor and Gay made plans to return to Florida to train until voluntary workouts resume May 19-21. The two had been working out in Florida since the end of the first voluntary team practices prior to last week's NFL Draft.
With Shaw's help, Taylor ran a 4.18 40 at his college's pro day. Taylor's speed led the Steelers to draft him in the fourth round despite playing only one year at cornerback.
Gay, timed at 4.5 in college, is looking for an edge to run with the league's fastest receivers.
"He said anytime you want to work out, come down," said Gay, a fifth-round pick. "Going down there with Ike, a proven vet, being down there in the heat, that's what I like. We call that fourth-quarter heat. If you can battle through that, you can battle through anything."
The similarities between Taylor and Gay are striking.
Both players were late-round draft picks who had to battle their way into the starting lineup.
Taylor became a starter in 2005 in his third pro season when he replaced Chad Scott. Gay is set to replace departed free agent Bryant McFadden and become a starter in his third season.
"Your mind-set is different. They're game-planning you now," said Taylor, who turns 29 today. "It ain't like we're substituting and the other team is game-planning Ike and Troy (Polamalu). Now you're in the game plan — they're going to come at you. The game's on the line every play. If they feel like you've got a weakness, they're going to try to expose it. That's the difference between alternating and being a full-time starter."
Steelers third-round draft pick Keenan Lewis, a cornerback timed at 4.5 in college, should consult with Gay regarding his offseason workout schedule. Lewis trained with Taylor, a fellow New Orleans resident, in Florida prior to the draft.
As minicamp concluded Sunday, Lewis said he would return home and train with fellow third-round pick Mike Wallace, a wide receiver and another New Orleans native, rather than resume his training with Taylor.
Gay's advice to Lewis would be to change his plans.
"Last year, Ike told me to come down to Florida, but I had a trainer back home. This year, I had a great trainer for working out, but I wanted to get the work done on the field," Gay said. "Just going down there working with Ike, if I can learn and get better like him, I want to do that. Why not work with the No. 1 corner on the team?"
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers notebook: Ex-Steeler Sanders living up to his word
- Linebacker Harrison coming along slowly since return to Steelers
- Play to watch: Colts, Luck like to confuse defenses
- Steelers notebook: Shazier returns just in time
- Steelers’ Adams delivers in pinch against Texans
- Steelers free safety Mitchell is still settling into role on defense
- Steelers dial up 2-point play for Brown’s TD toss
- Rossi: Middling Steelers must make a statement
- Nearing season’s midpoint, Steelers still have issues to sort out
- Steelers-Texans game changers: Bell’s 43-yard catch provides spark
- Starkey: Century mark beckons for Ben