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Charles Woodson an 'inspiration' -- and perhaps a guide -- to Ike Taylor

11/26/2014

PITTSBURGH – Ike Taylor spoke in glowing terms about one of the few players who can actually call the Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback a youngster.

Charles Woodson's an inspiration to me,” Taylor said of the Oakland Raiders safety. “I always say there’s a few guys on a team that you can’t (count) as far as age factor and I truly believe that about Charles Woodson. He’s still playing at a high level.”

That Taylor called the 38-year-old Woodson an “inspiration” confirmed that retirement is anything but on Taylor’s mind even though he is in his 12th NFL season and in the final year of his contract with the Steelers.

The bigger question with Taylor, who turned 34 in May, is whether the Steelers should bring him back in 2015.

It is something they at least have to consider.

Cortez Allen, the supposed successor to Taylor as the Steelers’ No. 1 cornerback, has been a disaster and turned into a reclamation project. Antwon Blake has emerged as a young cornerback with promise after replacing Allen as the Steelers’ nickel back.

But beyond that the Steelers don’t have a lot of young talent at cornerback unless they found something in B.W. Webb, who they claimed off waivers in early September but has only played special teams in the limited snaps he has received.

Taylor is set to return from a broken forearm he sustained in late September, and the injury cost the 6-2, 195-pounder eight games.

But it also saved some tread on his legs while also proving again that Taylor is the consummate professional.

His injury was so gruesome that it initially looked like a season-ending one. That Taylor will make it back this week, barring a setback, with five games left in the season is a testament to his work ethic.

And the work he puts in year-round makes it completely plausible that Taylor might be able to slow down the aging process when it comes to his football career.

Plus, a the Steelers had couple of 36-year-olds return this season in defensive end Brett Keisel and outside linebacker James Harrison, and both have been critical additions to a defense ravaged by injuries.

Why can’t Taylor play at a level similar to what Keisel and Harrison have given the Steelers as a 35-year-old next season?

“Ike and I have had a running joke a number of years but there’s a lot of truth to it,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “In our football game, particularly at this level, I tell him every day that he’s got to fight to prove his love for this game and his capability. He’s been doing it for a long time and he doesn’t run away from it.”

Far from it. Taylor, who has played 16 games in nine of his 12 seasons with the Steelers, embraces the challenge -- just as Woodson, an eight-time Pro Bowler, has done throughout his decorated career.

“I try to compare myself not to what he’s done in the NFL because he’s a Hall of Famer,” Taylor said, “but just similarities as far as being healthy, making plays and proving every year his love for the game.”