Taylor says demotion helped toughen him

PITTSBURGH --Ike Taylor could not recall the game that cost him his starting job in 2006.

The 11th-year veteran can still remember as if it were yesterday how badly it bruised his ego when then Pittsburgh Steelers secondary coach Darren Perry informed him of the demotion.

If anybody can relate to what Steelers left tackle Mike Adams and defensive end Ziggy Hood are going through now it is Taylor.

His demotion came when his status as a Super Bowl hero -- Taylor had intercepted a pass less than a year earlier to help the Steelers beat the Seattle Seahawks -- and his relatively young age (26) probably gave him a feeling of football invincibility.

Looking back almost seven years after his benching, Taylor stopped just short of saying it was the best thing that could have happened to him.

“It helped me a whole lot,” said Taylor, who returned to the starting lineup for the regular-season finale in 2006 after a five-game benching. “Mentally, just being tough, it helped me because in this league you just never know what the situation is but you’ve always got to be prepared. I went home, thought about it and told myself ‘You know what, man I’m not going to let this deter me or any of my goals.’

“I didn’t let anything deter me and the coaches see that and your teammates see that. Coaches don’t want to hear you complain. One thing you don’t want to do is change your attitude or change your demeanor when it comes down to playing football.”

Hood said that will not be an issue with him as disappointed as he is about his benching.

His situation is a little different from that of Taylor in 2006 or even Adams since Hood may no longer be in the Steelers’ long-term plans.

The 2009 first-round pick is in the final year of his contract, and the Steelers will not make re-signing Hood much of a priority if he cannot re-claim his starting job -- or at least make more of an impact with the limited snaps he gets in the foreseeable future.

Hood took his benching like a consummate company man, but he also made it clear that the demotion is not a result of a lack of effort or desire on his part.

“I’ve always been hungry, that’s the thing,” Hood said. “I’ve always wanted to be one of the best out there. Has it made me even hungrier? No because my hunger will never be fulfilled until I’m one of the greats.”

Achieving that goal got a lot harder now that Cameron Heyward is playing ahead of him. But Hood said he will do what coach Mike Tomlin thinks is best for the Steelers.

“I’ve got to take it how it is and keep going,” Hood said. “I’d be a horrible teammate if I allowed this to eat me up inside and turn away from [Heyward] because he’s starting and I’m not because that’s not the type of guy I am.”