Ike Taylor Hoping A Healthier Year Means A More Productive One

A year after suffering the first significant injury of his career, and forcing him to miss much of the season, Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor started every game last season, and only came off the field for a snap or two due to some minor injury or another.

That’s what he would have had you believe last year, but as he admitted earlier this offseason, he was playing through some pain.

According to Dale Lolley, he acknowledged as much again yesterday during practice, as did his defensive coordinator, Dick LeBeau:

He was playing with some injuries last year. True professional players do that and they don’t use it for a crutch. You didn’t hear that from Mike (Tomlin), but I could see it. Again, from the middle of the season on, if you look at him it’s really close to playing like Ike can play. He looks good at training camp. I think the anomaly part is that he was injured. But we needed him in there. I’m not saying that. But it’s going to affect his play a little bit.

The veteran cornerback didn’t spend much time on the injury report last year—he rarely does. He sustained a concussion that had him listed as questionable for one week, but even though he suffered some bumps and bruises during games that made him come off the field for a snap or two, he didn’t take time off during practices and was only on the injury report for the week following his concussion.

Taylor missed a total of 24 snaps during the 2013 season, spread out over eight different games. He never missed more than five snaps in any individual game, but you can figure that many of those isolated incidents were the result of some minor nick or another that he suffered on the field and needed to come off for a play.

It seems as though one or more of these little nicks were more significant than it appeared, and that Taylor simply played through them.

Of course, it’s natural to want to automatically associate the idea of him playing hurt with some of the poor performances that he had last year, particularly when it came to his unusually unreliable tackling, missing double-digit tackles.

The decline in his play last year caused the Steelers to slightly change the way that they used him on defense toward the end of the season, moving him around less often and providing him more insurance over the top against receivers.

It yielded positive results then, and Taylor appears to be healthy now, so it seems reasonable to assume that he could be expected to have a better season in 2014 than he did last year, even if he appears to have lost a step or two in recent years.

But a clean bill of health is certainly no guarantee of improved performance. Taylor did say that he did more weight training during this offseason, believing that that is something that he was slacking on in recent years. Perhaps health and an even more strenuous workout regimen will deliver a stronger final farewell for the 12th-year pro—maybe even buy him another year or two.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Ten push-ups when he dropped a ball yesterday. Probably 10,000 extra push-ups in his career. Over his many years should he not have spent some time on the Jugs machine? Come on, Ike!

  • joed32

    He has spent a lot of time on it but it hasn’t helped.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    A winner never gives up. He trains like a maniac, and that will help him for his entire life. He needs to have that same mentality while trying to catch the ball. Even if he needs to see some Zen Guru. It would be great for him, the team, and a great example for the youngsters if he could overcome this weakness.

    I do not accept failure as setbacks are overcome on the way to ultimate success.

  • Pete Johnson

    A “bounceback” year is clearly coming, I mean 34 year old corners age like a fine wine. Oh but he was “hurt” last year, all of the sudden. Just hope we can squeeze one more year out of him and call it a career. Love Ike to death but father time waits for no man. He is the oldest starting corner in the league, and one of very few even IN the league at his age.

  • joed32

    To give him some credit he does stay in amazing shape for his age.

  • cencalsteeler

    Not sure how to read this. Is Ike making an excuse for his play in 13 by saying he was injured? Now he’s healthy so he’s going to play better? Did he do harm to the team last year by hiding his injury if he indeed played injured? 14 will show us pretty quickly whether retaining Ike was a good move or not. No more excuses, time to show us Ike. Actions speak louder than words, and I admit, I am not very comfortable with him after last seasons showing. I hope he rebounds for a stellar year, but not all stories have fairytale endings.

  • PA2AK

    Not sure I understand or have ever understood the negative talk about Ike. He may have been hurt, but offering it as an excuse is probably missing the mark. That’s not in his nature…just like catching the football. He’s been a really solid player for us and hope he make a bit of a come back this year. If anyone can do it, it’s this guy. Works like very few do.

  • Eric MacLaurin

    The key for Ike is just an adjustment in his prep to help him hang onto those potential interceptions. He encourages it with his push ups.

    He needs to punish himself for dropping the ball not reward himself.

    I bet that if he stopped the pushups with every drop in practice and painted a finger nail pink instead he would intercept at least one additional and probably two or more passes this year.

    Probably wins an extra game for the team.

    Man up!