Steelers' Ike Taylor stays close to team while eyeing return

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Ike Taylor has stayed close to the Pittsburgh Steelers since breaking his right forearm in a Sept. 21 game against the Carolina Panthers.

The veteran cornerback traveled with the Steelers to Jacksonville this weekend, and he has been offering pointers to teammates and cheering them on in practice as well as in games.

Not that transitioning from player to de facto assistant to defensive backs coach Carnell Lake has been easy for the 34-year-old Taylor.

"It sucks," he said.

Taylor repeated that two more times as he finished dressing late Sunday afternoon in the visiting locker room at EverBank Field.

Taylor had just watched the Steelers' cornerbacks play better than any unit in a 17-9 win against the upset-minded Jaguars. And as much as it hurts him not to be on the field, Taylor's pride was unmistakable as he talked about Brice McCain's quiet resolve -- oh, and his 22-yard interception return for a touchdown -- and the play of the cornerbacks in a win the Steelers had to have.

Cortez Allen played his best game of the season, tying linebacker Lawrence Timmons with a team-high seven tackles while intercepting a pass and breaking up three of them.

William Gay, who has been starting at right cornerback since Taylor went down, broke up a pair of passes and nearly made a diving interception of a Blake Bortles pass early in the game.

All six passes that the Steelers broke up were credited to their top three cornerbacks.

"Those boys have been practicing hard," Taylor said. "We talk about it all the time and this game it just showed. I’m glad to see the young guys making play. That's what it's all about."

Most players are considered a young guy compared to Taylor, who is in his 12th NFL season and faces an uncertain future.

Taylor is in the final year of his contract with the Steelers and there are no guarantees he will return this season after shattering his forearm. Taylor said he doesn't know when the cast that covers his lower right arm and wraps around his elbow will come off.

Even after that happens he will face a lengthy rehabilitation process.

The Steelers kept Taylor on their 53-man roster instead of placing him on injured reserve because they know if anyone can make it make from his injury it is the colorful cornerback who is also known as "Swaggin U."

And Taylor made it clear that returning to the game as a player remains his primary focus.

"Me and one of the coaches were talking and he said, 'What's your plan?' I said, 'Man, football is my A, B, C and D plan right now,'" Taylor said. "That's all I know is football."