Steelers cornerback Taylor ready to swap earpiece for helmet
Ike Taylor can sure talk with the best of them.
If you were unaware of that, watching Taylor prowl back-and-forth on the sidelines the past eight weeks with an earpiece in his left ear listening to the defensive calls and chirping at Mike Tomlin every chance he got while recovering from a broken forearm likely changed that.
“I’d rather have on Ike on the grass,” Tomlin said with a laugh during his weekly news conference Tuesday.
But even the best talkers have to add a visual aid to truly get the point across. Taylor is banking on that because “it’s about that time.”
Cleared and ready to return to his starting cornerback spot after missing two months, the 34-year-old Taylor said he will show video of Super Bowl wins in Detroit and Tampa Bay to the young players to solidify what he has been telling them all year.
“Talking is cool, and I can talk until I am blue in the face,” Taylor said on his TribLive Radio show. “But I am going to give them the same scenario that we were in and I am going to give them the outcome of the confetti coming down on your head and the city going crazy. They hear it, they know it, but … they need to see it.”
They need to see it because not many who experienced it are still around.
There are only seven remaining from Super Bowl XL and 10 from the Super Bowl three years later — five of which are current starters — so celebrating titles isn’t something this group knows.
“I really feel good about this team,” Taylor said, “but the only way we are going to do that is to put 10 toes in. I have to have 10 toes in, and you have to be head first.”
That starts Sunday with Taylor against pass-happy New Orleans at Heinz Field. The Steelers are in a situation where they can’t afford to lose many, if any, over the final month, especially in the highly competitive AFC North, where the Bengals (7-3-1), Steelers (7-4), Browns (7-4) and Ravens (7-4) are tightly clustered.
“If we do what we need to do on a week-in and week-out basis in terms of our business in our stadium, then it’s not going to be required that we look around,” Tomlin said. “We play some significant people moving forward.”
The Saints are third in passing, and Drew Brees is on pace for another 5,000-yard passing season.
Taylor spent the past month working with the scout team before he was cleared to play by Dr. James Bradley on Monday.
“I feel like a little kid in a candy store,” Taylor said. “I am just glad to be back on the field with the guys. I am tired of coaching. That coaching is overrated at this time. I am ready to get back on that field.”
Taylor isn’t accustomed to watching.
Taylor played in 135 consecutive games before breaking his ankle late in the 2012 season. After an injury-free 2013, Taylor has missed eight of 11 games this year. He has missed 12 of the Steelers last 24 games.
“Ike cares about football. He’s passionate about it. He cares about us,” Tomlin said. “Ike is a team player (and) he wants to win. If he can’t be a component of us winning in a helmet, then he’s going to work to be a positive contributor to our efforts in any way that he can. He has and does routinely.”
Taylor, who took a $4.25 million pay cut to stay with the team, will return to the starting lineup and William Gay will move to the left side. Brice McCain, who started the past five games, will play slot corner.
“Ike and I have had a running joke a number of years, but there’s a lot of truth to it,” Tomlin said. “In our football game, particularly at this level, I tell him every day that he’s got to fight to prove his love for this game and his capability. He embraces that.”