LATROBE, PA. -- His entrance lacked subtlety and Ike Taylor owned it the way he once did wide receivers who lined up across from him.
Taylor, after reporting Friday afternoon for his 12th training camp at bucolic St. Vincent College, said he does not think the days of him shutting down wide receivers are bygone ones despite his struggles last season. And while he acknowledged that he is not getting any younger, Taylor said he wants to play beyond this season, which happens to be the last one on his Pittsburgh Steelers contract.
“I feel like a newborn baby,” Taylor, who turned 34 in May, said in his own inimitable way. “All I need is a pacifier and mama’s milk.”
That Taylor arrived for camp in good spirits not to mention a star shaved into his head == “superstar,” he said with a smile -- is a good sign considering how ticked off he seemed last month when he went on the Jim Rome Show and sounded off about having to accept a pay cut to return to the Steelers.
Taylor shrugged off his comments as just venting and said his unhappiness over taking a pay cut won’t affect his preparation during camp or his play this season.
“You pout about it and you handle yourself on the field,” said Taylor, whose base salary this season was cut from $7 million to $2.5 million. “I can’t see myself nowhere else. I live and bleed Pittsburgh. I’m a yinzer. The only thing I don’t really do to be a yinzer is eat Primanti Brothers.”
(Note: Yinzer is a term often applied to hardcore Pittsburgh residents and Primanti Brothers’ most famous sandwich includes coleslaw and fries on a hamburger and is considered a Pittsburgh signature).
“Other than that I’m Pittsburgh all the way down. I wear my 412 clothing. I’ve got a 412 [area code), my nickname is ‘Lil Rooney.’ What else you want from me?”
Taylor said he hasn't felt this good physically in years and that renowned speed coach Tom Shaw, whom he works with during the offseason, actually had to tell him to ease up on his training.
If this is his last season with the Steelers -- the 6-foot-2, 195-pounder intends on playing somewhere in 2015 -- Taylor feels good about making a run at his third Super Bowl ring.
“This team as far as young guys and the energy it’s like the [2004-05] feeling,” Taylor said in reference to the seasons in which the Steelers made the AFC championship game and won the Super Bowl. “We talked about speed on defense and from OTAs through minicamp you saw the speed on defense and I think in ’04 and ’05 we were pretty speedy on defense.”