Notebook: Chance of a lifetime

<b>LATROBE -</b> Ike Taylor will start at cornerback Saturday in the preseason opener against the Detroit Lions, and if he plays poorly he may not receive another chance.<br><br> Then again, as Taylor so eloquently put it, "You only get a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity so many times."

It kind of sums up the entire NFL preseason experience, doesn't it?

But Taylor and Ricardo Colclough, the apparent cornerbacks of the future for the Steelers, will receive their first "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" Saturday against a couple of young and heralded wide receivers for the Lions - Charlie Rogers and Roy Williams.

They are plums of the two most recent drafts -- top seven overall picks each -- and they will try to break out against Taylor and Colclough, whom the Steelers consider plums in their own right.

Taylor was a fourth-round pick last season with amazing athletic skills. Colclough was a player for whom the Steelers traded a fourth-round pick in order to move up and draft in the second round this year.

The two will play in place of injured first-teamers Chad Scott and Deshea Townsend. Colclough won't start, but he'll be the nickel back behind starter Willie Williams.

However, Colclough will play extensively. Does he realize he's not at Tusculum any more? "I realized that the first day of minicamp," he said.

Is he ready?

"I'm not afraid of a challenge," he said. "I go up against some pretty good receivers out here." "We've thrown a lot at him," said Steelers Coach Bill Cowher. "He's been in there at the nickel back and we really didn't hold anything back.

"Considering where he came from, I've been really pleasantly surprised that he's able to pick it up as quickly as he has. Yes, he's made some mistakes and, yes, with all the things our offense does with the shifts, the motions and some of the formations we've had, it's kind of run together a little bit with him at times. The thing we've done with him is just try to get him to where he's going to have some versatility so we can get him on the field and allow him to play. We can always pull back a little bit if we feel it's an overload, but I've been very pleased with his ability to comprehend everything and I think he's on track."

Taylor was the Steelers' dime back by the end of last season. He's 6-1, 191 pounds and runs the 40 in 4.3 seconds. Cowher believes he's becoming more than just an athlete at his second camp. "To this point he's done a lot of good things and he's practicing against some pretty good players and it's a learning experience every day for him," Cowher said. "It's something I think he's just soaking up."

Scott (abdominal) is expected to return to practice Monday or Tuesday. Townsend's groin injury is "not severe but it's significant," Cowher said. "We'll check his status next week. It could be mid-week before he works again."

Back-up nose tackle Kendrick Clancy (calf) is still two or three weeks away from returning, but tight end Jerame Tuman (elbow) will come off the PUP list Monday and will practice.

Young defensive ends Eric Taylor (hamstring) and David Upchurch (ankle) have been ruled out of Saturday's game, but are expected back Monday or Tuesday.

Back-up safety Shane Walton (back) is out but expected back next week.

Outside linebacker Clark Haggans will have the pins removed from his hand Monday and could play in the third preseason game.

Free safety Chris Hope (shoulder) will not play Saturday, but "should be ready to go full speed next week," Cowher said.

Rookie linebacker Nathaniel Adibi (back) is questionable for the game.

Cowher was asked to talk about some of the players at camp who've "shown flashes."

"I tell you who's had a good camp is Brian St. Pierre," Cowher said. "He's thrown the ball very well at times; then you look at the running back situation with Willie Parker and Dante (Brown), Verron (Haynes); you look at the receivers and (Zamir) Cobb from Temple; defensively, a couple of those outside linebackers and obviously the secondary and some of the defensive linemen. Travis Kirshke has fit in very well in this scheme. He's played well. Chris Hoke's had a good camp. Brett Keisel was inactive most of last year so I want to kind of see his development."

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