At 34, and in the final year of his contract, Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor enters his 12th season in the Pittsburgh secondary. For the last nine of those seasons, Taylor has been a starter.
As he sees it, 2013 — a season in which he ranked 97th among qualifying cornerbacks, according to Pro Football Focus’ ratings — wasn’t one of his best campaigns.
“It was a so-so year,” Taylor told reporters Tuesday, according to a transcript from the club. “But when you play long enough, you are going to have a so-so year or two. But I didn’t like that. I understood that. I had to be honest with myself. Regardless of what it is in life, you have to get better.”
Taylor has been a regular on the Steelers’ last three Super Bowl entrants; of the Steelers’ current players, only safety Troy Polamalu, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, tight end Heath Miller and long-snapper Greg Warren share that distinction. The club hasn’t won a postseason game since 2010, and it hasn’t made the playoffs since 2011.
To that end, Taylor believes his big-game experience can help him set an example for some of the club’s younger players.
“I have to have the image and mindset to at least lead the young guys, because they don’t know what it takes to make the playoffs,” Taylor said. “They don’t know what it takes to win Super Bowls. But I do, and we have a few guys left who know how to win. All we can do is be leaders and let the chips fall.”
On the field, Taylor still could figure as one of the Steelers’ top three cornerbacks, with Cortez Allen and William Gay also again likely to play major roles. For Taylor — perhaps underappreciated in his prime — it’s a chance to improve on a 2013 season below his standard.