Saturday, September 14, 2013
Ike Taylor hopes to rise to challenge again
By Scott Brown
PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers can count on at least one thing Monday night: Veteran cornerback Ike Taylor will be on high alert in Cincinnati.
“I’m going into the game like this dude’s really trying to kick my butt, so I’ve got to be ready every play,” Taylor said.
And even that is only a starting point when it comes to trying to contain Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green.
Taylor gets the privilege of going where Green does in Paul Brown Stadium, outside of the home locker room, and he figures to be plenty busy.
Green caught nine passes for 162 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the Bengals’ season-opening loss to the Bears on Sunday, and quarterback Andy Dalton threw to him 13 times.
Green is only in his third NFL season, but he has already arrived.
He came in at No. 9 in ESPN’s ranking, released last month, of the top 100 offensive players in the NFL. Only Calvin Johnson (No. 2) and Larry Fitzgerald (No. 7) were rated above Green among receivers.
“He’s everything you want, every single play,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said.
Taylor has been everything the Steelers have wanted in the three previous games he shadowed Green.
Green, the No. 4 pick of the 2011 NFL draft, has caught a combined nine passes for 131 yards when he has matched up against Taylor. Green exploded for 10 catches for 116 yards the last time the Steelers played the Bengals, but Taylor missed that game with a broken ankle.
Not that Taylor is counting on recent history to help him blanket 6-foot-4, 207-pound Green. He knows what he will be up against while trying to cover a big, fast receiver who is also a skilled route runner.
“Usually tall guys, it takes time for them to get out of breaks,” Taylor said. “A.J.’s able to get out of breaks like a small, quick guy. He gets out of breaks like an AB [Antonio Brown] or Emmanuel [Sanders].”
How much help Taylor will get with Green remains to be seen.
The Bengals have a pair of tight ends who were first-round picks (Jermaine Gresham and rookie Tyler Eifert), and they will command their share of attention when they work the middle of the field.
But Taylor has more than held his own against Green in the past, and he will have to do it again on the big stage that is "Monday Night Football."
Because if he gets his butt kicked, chances are the Steelers will, too.