Cortez Allen preparing to start the Ike Taylor Way

Gregory Shamus

Taylor, the 10-year veteran, is showing third-year CB Cortez Allen how to prepare for the rigors of starting a season in the NFL.

Practice how you want to play.

NFL players will oftentimes try to mimic the environment of training camp in order to prepare for the brutal work they'll face during those three weeks. It's tough to find a better place to do that than the late spring/early summer in Florida.

Steelers right cornerback Cortez Allen, a Florida native, knows those conditions well. So does Louisiana native Ike Taylor. Allen, because he grew up there. Taylor, because he's been training at Disney's Wide World of Sports facility for several years, under the guidance of speed and conditioning coach Tom Shaw.

Now, writes Tribune-Review reporter Ralph N. Paulk, Allen can get the best of both.

The Steelers' starting cornerbacks have been working with Shaw this offseason, and Allen notes the value of learning from Taylor, one of the league's most durable players.

"Ike is one of the hardest workers I've met," Allen told Paulk. "Seeing the way he does things is something that I would one day like to model. I'm getting a close-up view of what it takes to play 10 years in this league.

"We know what's required in the scheme of what we do. We know how to push one another. We have to coach each other. We're making one another and the team better as a whole."

The betterment of one is the betterment of all in a team dynamic. Each player may have different training methods, but clearly, the ones Taylor uses work. He's started for the Steelers since 2006, and missed his first games since 2007 this past year, when he broke his ankle leaping to make a play on a pass thrown to Ravens receiver Torrey Smith in Week 13.

Taylor made the play.

Allen took over, alongside former Steelers CB Keenan Lewis, and played reasonably well off the bat. He gave up a long touchdown to Ravens receiver Anquan Boldin despite quality coverage. The Ravens continued to gun at him, looking to land a knockout punch to a Steelers team playing without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

They wouldn't get it. The Steelers defense helped lock down the future Super Bowl champions in the second half, and QB Charlie Batch led the Steelers to a game-winning field goal by Shaun Suisham to pull out the victory. It was the first time the Ravens lost at home in their previous 16 games at M&T Bank Stadium.

Lewis left for the financial windfall given to him in New Orleans, and part of the reason why the Steelers let him go in free agency was the play of Allen down the stretch of the 2012 season. He had two interceptions and forced three fumbles in the team's last two games - accounting for one third of all the Steelers' turnovers in 2012.

While forcing turnovers aren't exactly Taylor's style (14 interceptions in 153 career games), Allen is already off to a great start.

Perhaps Allen can teach Taylor a thing or two while they're down there.


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