PITTSBURGH – Ike Taylor's just like any other player in the middle of contract negotiations: He'll play and his agent will negotiate.
"I'm just glad to be back," said Taylor. "I want to stay in Pittsburgh. As a matter of fact, I WILL stay in Pittsburgh."
So the talks aren't going too badly?
"I don't even know how they're going to be honest with you," he said. "I just know I'm going to be in Pittsburgh."
Taylor is one of the NFL's emerging young cornerbacks. At 6-foot-1 and a thick 191 pounds, he has the size and loves to show it off in run support. And at 4.3 in the 40, Taylor has the speed. His first year as a starter was a smashing success, too. On the Pittsburgh Steelers' ride to the title, Taylor blanketed Chad Johnson in his more impressive moments. He also had the majority of man responsibilities against Marvin Harrison and Rod Smith in the AFC playoffs.
After the Super Bowl, Taylor became a restricted free agent and the Steelers effectively took him off the market with the middle tender. Now they're hoping to keep him from unrestricted free agency next spring by extending his contract before opening day. After that, it could be too late.
"I had a short off-season," Taylor said, "but I worked my tail off and I'm right back in the mix."
Taylor started working out a week after the Super Bowl. He's now trying to improve his ball skills. Before and after every spring practice, a coach or teammate will throw passes that Taylor catches one-handed.
"I have to because of all the opportunities that I didn't capitalize on last year," he said.
Taylor believes he should've had "about 10" interceptions last season, but he only had one because of all the drops. It's difficult to believe as Taylor's soft hands reel in pass after pass on the sidelines.
"It was just a part of me that wasn't concentrating last year," Taylor said.
He's having a strong minicamp. Only one receiver beat Taylor deep in five practices, but Taylor won't even admit to the one.
"Come on man. Ain't nobody getting past me," Taylor said. "I pride myself on one thing and it's not getting beat deep, so ain't nobody getting past me."
So Santonio Holmes wasn't behind him by five yards on Saturday?
"The ball wasn't even catchable," Taylor said. "It was out of bounds."
On the island, a bad memory is encouraged, but that doesn't mean Taylor is making promises to suit the moment. He meant what he said about staying in Pittsburgh. Taylor was reminded of the promise after practice as he walked down the hall toward the front office on Monday.
"I'm on my way now to tell Mr. Rooney that I said it," Taylor said. "I meant it."