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fordfixer
05-05-2009, 01:09 AM
Harris: Taylor's work ethic inspires

By John Harris, TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Tuesday, May 5, 2009

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 23636.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_623636.html)

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?"

steeler_fan_in_t.o.
05-05-2009, 09:15 AM
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.

IMO this is one of the things that separates the great franchises from the rest. And, I think a lot of it was started by Bettis.

When FWP arrived he was just a raw kid with little experience but lots of speed. JB took him under his wing and taught him a lot - about being a RB and being a professional. Jerome said that when he arrived with the Rams, he was shunned by the current roster RBs because they didn't want him taking their jobs. He said that he would never treat a new kid that way, and it showed.

Now, Ike is helping Gay and Keenan Lewis despite the fact that one day he might be sitting on the sidelines watching those two start at CB thanks to his help. Timmons, discussing the departing Foote, saying how much he helped - even though Foote knew that Timmons would eventually replace him.

It might not always be the most prudent decision in protecting your own position, but I believe that team atmosphere helps keep us atop the league year in and year out.

ramblinjim
05-05-2009, 09:17 AM
Nice article. Ike seems like the kind of guy you want to play with. It's good to see the 4th round pick out of Louisiana Lafayette become an awfully good player.

Oviedo
05-05-2009, 09:44 AM
To paraphrase an oft used saying: "The symbol on the side of the helmet is more important than the name on the back of the jersey." This is what make organizations great and the Steelers seem to have tapped into that.

I agree that Bettis was a big past of that. He is in my mind easily one of the top 10 Steelers ever not just because of what he did on the field but also because of the leadership he displayed. The Steelers remain good in 2009 because of things Bettis did in 2004 and 2005 that have been perpetuated by current players.

It is called leadership by example and it is easy to say but hard to do. The Steelers do it and it will be a critical part of their success moving forward as long as they sustain and nurture it.

RuthlessBurgher
05-05-2009, 10:16 AM
"The symbol on the side of the helmet is more important than the name on the back of the jersey."

This is why my least favorite TD celebration is Santonio's where he points to the nameplate on the back of his jersey.

flippy
05-05-2009, 10:37 AM
I'd like to give credit to Obama....I mean the Rooneys....

AngryAsian
05-05-2009, 02:03 PM
Thanks for posting the article... great read. When you look at the work ethic that these "professionals" put forth, there is no 'season' about it. It is an all year regime and setting the bar for the next year's goals and accomplishments. Stories like this one make you scratch your head at how Plax ever was a part of this team. Talk about a waste of talent and missed opportunity at greatness.

steelers43
05-05-2009, 02:18 PM
"The symbol on the side of the helmet is more important than the name on the back of the jersey."

This is why my least favorite TD celebration is Santonio's where he points to the nameplate on the back of his jersey.

Well, it's Santonio so why are you surprised?

proudpittsburgher
05-05-2009, 02:32 PM
"The symbol on the side of the helmet is more important than the name on the back of the jersey."

This is why my least favorite TD celebration is Santonio's where he points to the nameplate on the back of his jersey.


Agreed completely. I cringe when I see him doing that celebration, but I just hope that he will be more team-centered with age. Bussie took a paycut, a big one, and a cut in his role on the offense to stay with the Steelers back in 2004, I think. That is obviously before the Steelers won the super bowl in 05, but he knew that he was willing to do that for a chance to win a title. And he did. I understand the younger guys bolting for money, because Bussie had already been paid, but I just wish more guys could be like this.