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Dick LeBeau still likes Ike (Taylor)

LATROBE, Pa. -- Cornerback Ike Taylor, coming off his most trying season since 2006, when he lost his starting job for five games, received a vote of confidence from Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau.

“From the middle of the (2013) season on if you looked at him, he’s really close and playing ball like Ike can,” LeBeau said. “He looks good in training camp.”

Teams targeted Taylor frequently last season and the 6-2, 195-pounder had trouble shadowing premier wide receivers like the Lions’ Calvin Johnson and the Browns’ Josh Gordon.

Taylor turned 34 in May but LeBeau said advancing age did not cause a decline in Taylor’s play as much as other factors did.

“He was playing with some injuries last year, and true professional players do that and they don’t use it for a crutch,” LeBeau said. “You didn’t hear that from Ike but we needed him in there.”

A few odds and ends:

  • It will be interesting to see what this afternoon’s practice looks like after such a lackluster one on Wednesday. Coach Mike Tomlin clearly was not happy about the Steelers’ worst practice of camp, and the Steelers could do more tackling this afternoon than he had planned even though they play their first preseason game in just two days. Tomlin will hold a news conference at 11:45 a.m. ET, when he will likely provide more clarity on rookie inside Ryan Shazier, who has missed the last two practices because of a right knee injury. Tomlin has twice said that Shazier has a “boo boo” when asked about the first-round pick’s injury.

  • Veteran inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons has said it is a childhood dream of his to make the Pro Bowl and go to Hawaii for the annual all-star game. LeBeau said the recognition that comes with making Pro Bowl is long overdue for Timmons. “I’ve said he’s been playing at a Pro Bowl level for three years now, and a couple of those years we led the daggone league in defense and he should have gone,” LeBeau said. “That’s just my opinion.”

  • Fans are running out of opportunities to watch the Steelers practice. Today’s practice at St. Vincent College will be the final one of the week that is open to the public. The Steelers have four open practices next week starting Monday and ending Thursday. Their last two open practices at camp with be joint ones with the Buffalo Bills at St. Vincent College.