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Mr. Ike Taylor




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Email: askike@facemeike.com

Taylor getting a jump on off-season preparation
Monday, February 19, 2007
By Teresa Varley

Football season doesn’t officially start for almost seven more months, but cornerback Ike Taylor is preparing as if the opener were tomorrow.

Taylor began his off-season program at the start of February, working with Tom Shaw, a conditioning coach based out of Disney’s Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Florida.

“I felt like coming off of last year as a team we didn’t have a good season and this year I want to help my team out as much as possible,” said Taylor. “I am not looking back. This is my fifth year and I know expectations are high for me. I have high expectations myself.

“I am just getting back into it. I took a good month off. That is something I never did in my whole life. Everyone was telling me I was training for so long without taking a break that it would be good for me to take a break and come back and give it all you’ve got. I always give it all I’ve got.”

Taylor is working out several days a week, spending time on cardio and speed as well as drills that are designed specifically for his position.

“Whatever position you play you have a drill for it,” said Taylor. “We do a couple of resistance drills. We do lot of metabolic stuff, a lot of cardio. You get two days of metabolic and cardio and two days of speed and conditioning. At the same time every day you are working on your position. The defensive backs are working on breaks and catching the ball. We are working with resistance. Coming out of your breaks you should have resistance.”

Taylor will stay in Florida working out until about a week before the team comes back for voluntary workouts in Pittsburgh. He plans to get in a little early as he is looking forward to meeting new head coach Mike Tomlin.

“I am going to come and talk to the new coach,” said Taylor. “I have talked to him a couple of times over the phone. He seems like a great guy. Coach Tomlin is young, he is hungry and I have heard great things about him from people he coached and people who know him.”

And Taylor is hoping to come back to a fresh start. Last season was disappointing for him, seeing the team go from Super Bowl champs to missing the playoffs.

“It was hard,” said Taylor. “Our expectations were higher than what we had coming off the Super Bowl year.”

It wasn’t just the team’s struggles that made 2006 hard for Taylor; it was the tough time he went through on the field personally. Taylor was benched during the season for five games because of his disappointing play, replaced in the lineup by Bryant McFadden.

“It was hard; it was real hard on me,” said Taylor. “I didn’t like it. Me being a professional and coming off the year I had in 2005, it was so hard on me. I was so hard on myself. I didn’t want to do anything. I didn’t want to talk to anybody. I just couldn’t wait to get back on the field.

“It’s all about playing football. I wanted to be on the field with the guys. That’s what I really missed, not being on the field with the guys play in and play out. I got back in the last game and enjoyed it.”

And Taylor is thinking about that time now, keeping it in his mind so he doesn’t have a repeat of it in the future.

“I can’t let that ever happen again, ever,” said Taylor. “I feel like at this point in time going into my fifth year everything has happened to me. I want to try to help the team out and get us back to the Super Bowl. That’s all I can do, 100% help the team out.

“I have always been driven. That’s the way I always have been. I know how I am going to respond.”

Taylor hopes Tomlin turns him into a Pro Bowler

By John Harris
Monday, February 19, 2007

Ike Taylor isn’t jumping to any conclusions, but what he’s seen and heard so far has him jumping for joy.
New Steelers coach Mike Tomlin’s first NFL job was coaching the Tampa Bay Buccaneers secondary. Pro Bowl cornerback Ronde Barber credits Tomlin with his development.

Taylor can’t wait to go to work for his new coach.

“I’m very fortunate,” he said.

Taylor is a cornerback with Pro Bowl potential entering his fifth season, his third as a starter.

He’s looking to bounce back following a disappointing year that resulted in him not starting five games because, quite frankly, former coach Bill Cowher needed a scapegoat for missing the playoffs, and Taylor was it.

Taylor will be the first to admit that 2006 wasn’t his best season, but a lot of Steelers could say the same thing.

For the first time since cracking the starting lineup, Taylor gave up some big plays in the passing game. But, truth be told, the Steelers’ lack of a consistent pass rush left Taylor — the team’s top cover corner — alone on an island far too often.

Not starting those five games afforded Taylor plenty of time to analyze what he did wrong, but also to not lose sight of those things he did right.

Following a couple of positive conversations with Tomlin, Taylor said he had never felt better about himself.

“We talked, and it was good. It wasn’t really football talk. We were just trying to get to know each other,” Taylor said. “I know what I can do. Coach told me he knows what I can do.

“He’s been with Ronde Barber; he knows what it takes. I need to just start dominating.”

Taylor is in Orlando, Fla., training with conditioning expert and speed coach Tom Shaw at the Wide World of Sports at Disney World. The two have trained together since Taylor was a middle-school student in New Orleans.

Last year, Taylor began training four days after the Steelers won Super Bowl XL. This year, Taylor, who recently made Orlando his offseason home, has been extremely intense in his workouts.

“The feeling I had last year, sitting all those games, I don’t ever want to have that feeling again,” Taylor said.

Said Shaw, who has developed 80 first-round draft picks and also is working with Steelers cornerbacks Ricardo Colclough and Anthony Madison: “Ike’s never complained. He just said he’s got to do a better job. He hasn’t lost a step. He might have gotten faster. He’s a workaholic.”

A quiet leader, Taylor’s offseason commitment has carried over to several of his defensive teammates. In addition to Colclough and Madison, cornerback Bryant McFadden trains with Taylor, and linebackers Joey Porter and James Farrior (another Orlando regular) also are expected to attend.

Next month, Taylor will participate in the Steelers offseason program, where he will finally meet face-to-face with Tomlin.

Taylor is honing his coverage skills against some of the top college receivers in the upcoming draft — players such as Georgia Tech’s Calvin Johnson and Florida’s Dallas Baker, who are preparing for the NFL Combine this week in Indianapolis.

Taylor’s one-on-one battles with Johnson, a projected top-five pick in the draft, have been the talk of Shaw’s camp.

“There’s only a few like him,” Taylor said. “He reminds me of Plax (former Steelers receiver Plaxico Burress). He’s big, but he’s fast. He’s right up on you before you know it.”

Johnson said Taylor had helped him immensely.

“He tells me what I’m doing wrong and to be under control at all times. He’s helping me get better as a receiver,” Johnson said. “He’s so polished. You don’t see cornerbacks like him in the college ranks.”

A little coaching can go a long way. That’s why Taylor is so looking forward to getting acquainted with Tomlin.

John Harris is a sports writer for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He can be reached at jharris@tribweb.com
Orignally published Feb. 19, 2007

Ike Taylor – “I Will Be A Steeler”

September 04, 2006 – X-A-M Sports is proud to announce that your favorite Pittsburgh Steeler, Ike Taylor, is going to remain a Steeler through 2010 on a four-year-extension signed
Sunday, September 3rd. Ike Taylor, a Super Bowl cover corner, becomes the highest paid defensive back in Pittsburgh Steelers history after only one year as the Steelers’ starting left cornerback. Ike’s agent, Scott Smith of X-A-M Sports, states “We’re all very happy and excited for Ike. Ike had two goals going into this season, to win another Super Bowl and to sign a long term contract extension with the Steelers.”

AN Footnote: In Ike’s profile in the AN, go to www.facemeike.com for more information and to communicate with him. Go to http://www.facemeike.com/fansites.ike and you will see the Athletic Network link.

Ike Taylor has his own Web site – www.facemeike.com – to communicate with fans.

AN footnote: Ike is heading for the “big dance” when the Steelers meet the Seahawks in Super Bowl XL in Detroit on February 5, 2006.

Ex-Cajun Taylor signs Steelers’ tender

May 03, 2006 – On the Fly published May 3, 2006

PITTSBURGH – Former Louisiana Ragin’ Cajun Ike Taylor, who won a championship ring in Super Bowl XL as a starting cornerback with the Pittsburgh Steelers, signed a one-year restricted free agent contract with the Steelers on Tuesday.
Taylor, who drew interest from other NFL teams, was the only AFC cornerback to receive an upgraded tender ($1.573 million) as a restricted free agent.

His 95 tackles (including 9 on special teams) were fourth-best among all NFL cornerbacks in the 2005 regular season, and he also had 20 tackles during Pittsburgh’s postseason run.

Unless Taylor and the Steelers come to terms on a contract extension, he will become an unrestricted free agent in 2007.

Taylor finds niche on defense

January 29, 2006 –
Bruce Brown

It turns out, Ike Taylor wanted to play defense all along.
When Taylor was first spotted on the field for the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns in 2001, he was a swift running back on coach Jerry Baldwin’s third UL squad.

He had been on campus for two years, getting eligible, after a sterling high school career in football and basketball at New Orleans’ Abramson High, when the Cajuns put him to work carrying the ball.

“I always wanted to play defense,” said Taylor, who played running back, defensive end, cornerback and place kicker at Abramson. “I just played running back to help the team out.”
Taylor finished that 2001 season with 323 yards rushing and three touchdowns, including scoring sprints of 65 and 48 yards, in addition to catching 18 passes and returning kickoffs for UL.

But that was Baldwin’s last season, and soon Rickey Bustle and his new coaching staff were evaluating talent for the 2002 campaign to come.

“Coach (Gary) Bartel felt I had a shot to go to the NFL if I switched to defensive back,” Taylor said. “I was physical, I was fast and I like to hit people. It just took time to work on my technique.”

It would be an understatement to say the move paid off.

Taylor made 46 tackles and broke up eight passes that fall, showing enough promise for the Pittsburgh Steelers to select him in the fourth round (No. 125 overall) of the 2003 NFL Draft, and a week from today Taylor will start against the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XL in Detroit.

The Steelers are in the title game for the sixth time thanks largely to a leaping interception by Taylor late in the first half of last week’s AFC title game at Denver.

Pittsburgh led 17-3, but the Broncos were trying to mount a drive that could close the score to 17-10. Instead, Taylor’s theft set up a scoring drive that made it 24-3 and sent the Steelers on their way.

Like many NFL players, Taylor spent much of his rookie season on special teams as a kickoff return man (831 yards) and coverage demon in the kicking game. He still returns kickoffs, but his role on defense has grown exponentially.

“Last year, my second year, was still a learning process in this defense,” Taylor said. “We tweak the defense every game. We’re always taking things out and putting in something new. It could be on the go, switching something during the week or during a game.

“So, you learn it, but you really don’t (fully) learn it.”

The Steelers are among the minority of NFL teams playing a 3-4 defensive alignment, a look that – coupled with blitzes – helped befuddle the favored Indianapolis Colts in the divisional round of the playoffs. That 21-18 upset win sent Pittsburgh to Denver last week.

“We’re on an island a whole lot,” Taylor said of the Steelers’ cornerbacks. “This defense is structured for the linebackers and strong safety. It’s real complicated, to be honest with you. Not a lot of 3-4 teams run man-to-man as much as we do.”

The goal for any defensive player is to be able to play on instinct, to react quickly to situations without over-analyzing. That crucial step finally came last summer for the former Ragin’ Cajun.

“In training camp this year, I got to the point where I could just play football,” Taylor said. “When you look at all the new guys who are playing right now, we’ve all been on the scout team since our first year.

“Me, Troy (Polamalu), Chris Hope, Deshea Townsend, we all have a feel for each other because we’ve been in that situation. At the same time, we’ve had to go against No. 1 receivers every day in practice.

“You’ve got to get your butt whipped to learn, and we’ve learned from the best.”

Taylor has quickly grown to enjoy playing for the Steelers and living in Pittsburgh.

“Pittsburgh is a very family-oriented city,” Taylor said. “The people go to work every day, then wake up ando go right back. And, they love the Steelers. People get (Steelers) tattoos, decorate their cars and name their children after their favorite players.”

Those fans can reach Taylor with his own Web site (www.facemeike.com), created to build a bridge between the former Cajun and the Steeler faithful.

“I did it to interact with the fans,” Taylor said. “After my first year, I gave it some thought and decided it was something I wanted to do.

“Fans want to know how I feel about certain situations, and I like to get to know them, to know some of their hobbies. I live through the fans, and let them live through me. I encourage them to give me their opinions, and some of the best opinions come from people who never played football. You live and learn.

“Fans are all you’ve got. They can make or break you. There’s no sense being rude to them. I just decided to take it a step further.”

In fact, Taylor is so attached to the city, he wouldn’t mind spending his entire NFL career in the Black and Gold.

“If the Lord lets me, I’ll retire as a Pittsburgh Steeler,” Taylor said.

With any luck, that day is in the distant future. For now, he’s focused on bringing a fifth NFL title back to the Steel City.

Originally published January 29, 2006

Taylor: New Orleans can rebound

January 29, 2006 –
Bruce Brown

Ike Taylor was on the verge of entering his third season with the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers last summer when tragedy struck his hometown.
The New Orleans native and Abramson High product watched in horror with the rest of the country last Aug. 29 when Hurricane Katrina blasted New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Two days later, Taylor had a pair of tackles in a 21-17 loss at Carolina that wrapped up the Steelers’ exhibition season, and the next week the NFL began its regular campaign.

A week from today, Taylor will line up at left cornerback for the Steelers in Super Bowl XL against the Seattle Seahawks, but New Orleans is never far from his thoughts.
“A lot of families got hit by Katrina,” Taylor said. “But it’s not so much how much you got hit, it’s how can you recover from something like that.

“My family dealt with it real good. Everybody had their head on straight. Some of them have moved. But we all dealt with it.”

Hurricanes are a way of life in south Louisiana, but it had been 40 years since Betsy struck New Orleans and 36 since Camille flattened the coast.

Then came Katrina, which dealt the region the largest financial blow in history.

Through the wreckage, Taylor saw a chance at revival.

“If you listen to the old people, they’ll tell you that ‘Katrina’ means cleansing,” he said. “Maybe it was time for something new in New Orleans. In two or three years it could be one of the best cities in the nation again.

“A lot of people had been saying for 20 or 30 years that we would get the big hit. I guess it’s every 40 years (instead). When you live in New Orleans, you’ve got to expect that kind of thing. Probably next time everyone will be better prepared.”

In fact, Taylor is counting on his city to rebound.

“It can be a beautiful city again in the next three to five years,” he said.

Originally published January 29, 2006

Taylor didn’t surprise this guy

January 22, 2006 –
Bruce Brown

We should have known all along.
Ike Taylor will be starting at left cornerback for the Pittsburgh Steelers in today’s AFC Championship Game at Denver.

He’s one step shy of joining Jake Delhomme, Brandon Stokley, Brian Mitchell, Randy McClanahan and Rafael Septien as former Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns playing in the Super Bowl.

Delhomme could make a return visit to the big game – his second in three seasons – if the Carolina Panthers upend the Seahawks in Seattle this evening.
Taylor and the Steelers knocked out Stokley’s Indianapolis Colts last weekend, while Delhomme ousted the Bears and former Cajun Charles Tillman. It was Tillman who showed Taylor how to play defense when they were UL seniors in 2002.

We could say we saw it coming from the moment Taylor set foot on the UL campus in 1999, that he was a can’t-miss member of Jerry Baldwin’s first recruiting class, but we’d be lying.

The former Abramson star sat out 1999 and 2000 getting academically eligible, so he was flying under the radar when the 2001 campaign began.

Still, Taylor had someone in his corner, someone who believed in him and wasn’t afraid to trumpet his talents. On a regular basis, we at The Advertiser would get phone calls from this mystery man.

“Say, Bruce, what’s going on with the Cajuns this week?” he would begin. “Have you heard anything about this Ike Taylor kid? I’ve heard he’s really good. Have they given him the ball yet? He’s really fast.”

We’re guessing it was an uncle. Surely some sort of family member. But he chose to remain anonymous. He’d never tell us who he was, but he called us all the time.

“They need to give this Ike Taylor kid a look,” he said. “Don’t you think they could use him?”

“The one that really comes to mind was a call during the summer months when everything was kind of quiet,” staff member Brady Aymond said. ” ‘Ike’s Uncle’ called to ask if we had got the updated depth charts for the football team. We explained to him that we normally don’t get depth charts until a week or two before the season.

“He began by saying ‘Because you know, there’s this kid on UL’s team that should be the starting tailback.’ The funniest thing I remember about his phone calls were that no matter how many times you had taken his calls, he always assumed you had never heard Taylor’s name. He always made it sound like this was the first time you were hearing of the great Ivan Taylor. And he always made it sound like he was just an “innocent party” relaying some scoop.

“Anyway, he starts telling me how Taylor definitely needs to be starting, because he’s ‘the fastest player they got out there. You know, they got that receiver (can’t remember if it was Stamps or not) that everybody says is fast. Well, the other day, they were all hanging around the dorm and they started talking about who was the fastest player on the team. That Taylor kid raced every single one of those guys and beat every single one of them. He raced them on that street (Rex Street) right outside the dorm, and beat everyone of them. I’m telling you, that boy needs to be starting, y’all need to do a story about that.’ ”

Aymond, who once lived in the Conference Center, said, “I can literally picture the guys sitting on the steps talking about who’s fast and what not. And I can see them racing down Rex Street.”

Staff member Eric Narcisse covered the Cajun Bowl spring game in 2001, and Taylor excelled, much to the delight of the mystery relative.

“Taylor’s biggest supporter called in, going off in his calm and cool manner,” Narcisse recalled.

” ‘What do you think of that Ivan Taylor?” he asked. “He’s really good. What is wrong with those UL coaches? They must not know what they are doing. Taylor is the best player on that team and I don’t understand why they won’t give him a chance.”

It got funny after a while, although you had to admire the unswerving loyalty shown to the young Cajun.

So, the 2001 season rolled around, and there was Ike, burning Arizona State for a 48-yard touchdown run. There was Ike, toasting North Texas for a 65-yard TD dash. New Mexico State saw him escape for a 20-yard score.

Jerome Coleman led those Cajuns with 625 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns, with Taylor next at 323, and both returned in 2002.

But Baldwin was out, replaced by Rickey Bustle, and Bustle’s staff moved Taylor to defense.

Under Tillman’s tutelage, Taylor came through with 46 tackles and broke up eight passes, drawing the attention of NFL scouts who already knew they wanted Tillman.

Taylor signed with Pittsburgh, and for a couple of years he earned his way on special teams as a kick returner – “that Taylor kid is fast” – and coverage man. He even began the 2005 exhibition season with a 100-yard kickoff return touchdown, but that’s no longer his prime duty.

He’s now a fulltime cornerback, with 139 tackles (111 solo) and a pair of interceptions to show for it this season. He helped the Steelers beat the supposedly unbeatable Colts.

And now Ike Taylor is one game away from the Super Bowl.

At least one person in Louisiana saw it coming all the time.

Originally published January 22, 2006