Ike not going back to the 'house

<b>PITTSBURGH - </b> Nobody talked to David Allen after the last game. It's unlikely reporters even knew Allen, the new punt returner for the Jacksonville Jaguars.<br><br> But he was the guy over in the corner with the train tracks etched upon his body. He's the guy Ike Taylor jacked up.

In the middle of the third quarter, with the Steelers leading 14-10, Chris Gardocki punted to Allen. Mere nanoseconds after Allen fielded the punt, he fielded Taylor - full-on.

Taylor looked around after the blast. He could've been looking for Allen's head.

"I was looking for flags," Taylor said. "You know, when I hit him, I blacked out for a split second. I was coming full speed. My eyes got big when his eyes got big so I knew the ball was about to drop. I didn't know exactly when, but once I saw his eyes I just hit him."

Did Taylor time it perfectly? Or did he just get lucky?

"A little bit of both," he said with a laugh. "I saw it come down and I wasn't stopping. That's what I told myself, that I won't stop. Sunday night football? Basically, football to me is like playing a role in a play on a big stage. The stage was national television. Plus, I got jacked up in the Dallas game."

ESPN's "Jacked Up" feature, done on Monday nights, counts down the top hits of the previous day. After Taylor was flattened by a Dallas kick coverer, he was the butt of hit No. 5 hit that particular weekend. Taylor's hit on Allen last Sunday night also checked in at No. 5.

"I should've been at least No. 2," Taylor said.

Actually, Taylor's just glad someone noticed. The coaching staff certainly noticed. They also noticed the hit he made on Troy Edwards on a third-and-4 play. Taylor hit Edwards to jar the ball loose. Out came the Jaguars' field-goal kicker, who promptly missed. Taylor saved three points, at least, in the Steelers' 17-16 win, and took another step out of the doghouse.

"I wasn't in the doghouse," Taylor corrected. "It was just a situation I was put in."

Good thing Taylor isn't relying on semantics to get back on the playing field.

He was a surprising rookie last season who came on at the end of the year and forced the Steelers to believe they'd found a big, fast, physical cornerback in the fourth round of that year's draft.

Taylor worked hard in the off-season, but perhaps the size of his head grew more than his muscles. He fell down the depth chart almost as quickly as he'd gone up. By the season opener, Taylor was inactive, buried on the bench behind the starters, and also back-up defensive backs Willie Williams Mike Logan, Ainsley Battles, rookie Ricardo Colclough and even special-teams ace Chidi Iwuoma. When Battles was put on injured reserve for the second game, Russell Stuvaints was re-signed and took his place.

Taylor bided his time and was active, and played, the third week and again the fourth week. He was inactive for a third time in Week 5 but has since played in seven consecutive games. He's a nickel and dime back as well as a kickoff returner and coverage man.

Judging by his performance last Sunday night, Taylor has no plans of regressing.

"The thing, to Ike's credit, is he responded," said defensive backs coach Darren Perry. "He didn't go in the tank. He kept working hard every day. As soon as it happened, his first reaction was to work harder. He stayed after practice, did some of the little things. He took it in a positive way, and that's what you have to do as a professional is take constructive criticism, use it to your advantage and have that be your driving force, and he did that, which is a credit to him."

In Taylor's first game out of the proverbial doghouse, he logged 17 defensive snaps against the Dallas Cowboys. The following week against the New England Patriots he made a spectacular interception.

"That was a highlight," said Taylor. "To me, that might've been the best interception so far this year. But that's over with."

Actually, it was a new beginning. But what exactly put Taylor in the doghouse in the first place?

"To be honest, I really don't know," he said. "I could say I kind of disappointed coach in the way that he wanted more out of me during the preseason. That's the vibe I got. So I just told myself the next time I get on the field, do more than I've been doing."

It's been the key. But …

"He still knows he's not there yet," said Perry. "So he still understands if he doesn't do what he's supposed to do, if he doesn't keep working on the little things, he could very easily be back. I think that's what's driving him now. Like Joe Paterno once told me, 'Run scared.' And that might be him right now."


Steel City Insider Top Stories