Ike Taylor on the Steelers' cornerbacks

PITTSBURGH -- Cortez Allen is poised to put everything together in his fourth NFL season and don't overlook William Gay.

That is what Ike Taylor said when assessing the state of the Steelers' cornerbacks, a subject that generated much discussion before the draft -- and after it since Pittsburgh took just one cornerback and waited until the fifth round to select Shaquille Richardson.

"Cortez Allen toward the end (of last) season was breaking out to what we thought he could be, a ballhawk," Taylor said. "Will Gay is real solid. I think last year was the best year of his career."

Allen and Taylor are expected to start at cornerback this season and Gay will see plenty of snaps as the Steelers' nickel back.

Allen just has to stay healthy to become a cornerback who can regularly hold his own against the opposing team's No. 1 wide receiver, let a lone become a shutdown corner. Gay is an underrated player who gets too much flak from fans but is more than capable of covering slot receivers.

As for the roles of the Steelers' top three cornerbacks, Taylor offered a colorful take.

"Cortez is Batman," he said. "I'm Joker. Gay is Robin."

What is no joke is Taylor's training regimen.

The 11th-year veteran is one of the hardest workers on the Steelers, and he is known for pushing himself to the brink during the offseason when he trains at the Tom Shaw Performance Camp in Walt Disney World.

"When you see them little starts that have been blinking across, gnats flying but they're really not gnats, it's about time for you to take a breather," Taylor said. "I got to that point a few times but I like to push myself to the limit."

Taylor will be among those pushing Richardson through the rest of the offseason practices and then training camp, which starts in late July. He likes what he sees so far from the rookie.

"He got the attitude and I think that's the first thing you need to have as a corner," Taylor said. "He's definitely got the attitude so everything else will fall (into place)."