Taylor still a kid at heart

<b>PITTSBURGH -</b> Like a kid at a candy store, Ike Taylor waited patiently while the big man exchanged greetings with Bill Cowher and others following the Steelers practice Wednesday. Taylor, a huge grin on his face, just had to meet Mel Blount and shake the hand of the man who revolutionized the cornerback position in the NFL.

"You can't play for the Steelers and not know who Mel Blount is," said Taylor, the Steelers' soft-spoken rookie cornerback. "He's a legend."

Maybe by the time his career is complete in Pittsburgh, Taylor will be something of a legend also.

Blessed with good size (6-1, 200 pounds) and blazing speed - he's been timed in the 4.2-second range in the 40-yard dash - Taylor may have the most potential of any Steelers draft pick in recent history.

But the fourth-round pick is also more raw than any player the teams has drafted in recent history. He played just two seasons of football at Louisiana-Lafayette, and only lined up as a cornerback in his senior season.

But when the Steelers made the move to bench Dewayne Washington in favor of Deshea Townsend a few weeks ago, they knew they had to get Taylor's speed into the lineup. He now starts at one of the outside cornerback positions in the nickel and dime defenses.

"I'm learning something new every day," Taylor admitted. "I'm a little surprised teams haven't really tested me out there, but I'm pretty sure somebody will at some point. Hopefully, I'll be up to the challenge."

Steelers head coach Bill Cowher has been tough on Taylor in practice, yelling at him to line up correctly and recognize the down and distance. But that's because Cowher sees that Taylor could truly be a special player.

"The experience he is getting is invaluable," Cowher said. "He doesn't have a lot of that.

"I think the experience he is getting on third downs is good. He got a lot of reps the other day (at Cleveland) and will probably get a lot of reps this week depending on the approach Cincinnati takes. There is no substitute for that."

Taylor said he doesn't mind the head coach taking a special interest in him.

"If he's yelling at me that means he cares what I'm doing," Taylor said. "Hopefully he won't have to yell at me that much."

And maybe someday, there will be a rookie waiting after practice to shake his hand.

"Ah, I don't know about that," Taylor said with his sheepish grin. "I don't know about that."

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