Ike Taylor eager to be part of the solution

PITTSBURGH -- After taking part in his first OTA session on Tuesday, Ike Taylor confirmed what William Gay had been raving about to him last week when Taylor was still training in Florida.

"Gay texted me all last week saying, ‘Hey man, I am telling you it’s like a track meet on defense. From the defensive line all the way back to the secondary, these boys are running,'" Taylor said. “When you look at it on the field and you actually play with them, you can see that they are running. Super-duper fast.”

Taylor, as the longest-tenured Steeler along with Troy Polamalu, might not qualify as that anymore.

But the 11th-year veteran won’t concede that any of the new Steelers -- or the game itself -- has raced past him. And Taylor, just back from his offseason training, said he believes he can be part of the solution as the Steelers try to rebound from consecutive 8-8 seasons.

"I have to take the mindset to at least lead the young guys, because they don’t know what it takes to make the playoffs," Taylor said. "They don’t know what it takes to win Super Bowls. But I do, and we have a few guys left who know how to win."

Taylor is one of just five Steelers who were on the teams that played in three Super Bowls from 2005-10 and won twom. The question with Taylor is whether he has enough left to help the Steelers get back to that level.

Taylor struggled last season in his role as No. 1 cornerback, and the frequency -- and success -- with which opposing quarterbacks targeted him led to questions of whether age had finally started to compromise his considerable coverage skills.

“It was a so-so year,” Taylor conceded. “I didn’t like that. I had to be honest with myself. Regardless of what it is in life, you have to get better.”

Taylor said he spent the offseason getting stronger so his body could better withstand the punishment that comes with playing a full season. Whether 2014 is his last season -- at least with the Steelers -- remains to be seen.

Taylor, who turned 34 last month, is going into the final year of his contract, and he had to agree to a pay cut to remain in Pittsburgh.

After his first offseason practice, Taylor proved to be his usual self to the reporters who crowded around the 6-foot-2, 195-pounder: colorful and entertaining while simply basking in the moment.

“Football, you have to understand as a player, is a business,” Taylor said. “You never know when your times comes. All I know is I’m going to enjoy myself, try to help this team as much as possible and let the chips fall where they may.”