STEELERS CB IKE TAYLOR “PISSED OFF” ABOUT TAKING PAY CUT
Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor told The Jim Rome Show that he was “pissed off” about taking a pay cut to stay with the team this season. He gave back $4.25 million in salary.
"I’m pissed off about it, still am pissed off about it and I’m going to be pissed off until the end of the season about it," Taylor said. "Did it hurt me? Hell yeah. Does it still hurt? Yeah, it hurts, but hopefully I can go in and bounce back this year, do what I need to do on the field and we will see what happens after."
Taylor added that he considered leaving the Steelers when asked to take a pay cut but noticed that other players who didn’t take pay cuts struggled after getting released.
"I didn’t want to leave Pittsburgh, point blank, period," Taylor said. "I’ve got a lot of relationships – I have a lot of friends, I gained a lot of business relationships in Pittsburgh. Just hearing from other guys coming from other teams and being on the team with Pittsburgh, they say it’s like no other; it’s like day and night, so I’ll listen." (Photo: Getty Images)
Steelers to use more “no huddle offense” this season:
The Pittsburgh Steelers turned to the no huddle offense out of desperation last fall more than anything.
Mired at the bottom of the AFC North and off to the franchise’s worst start in more than two decades, offensive coordinator Todd Haley decided it was time to speed things up and give quarterback Ben Roethlisberger a little more freedom in the process.
The positive results — a 5-2 run to end what became an 8-8 season thanks in part to a significant uptick in scoring — led Haley into a deep dive over the winter. The playbook he handed his players earlier this spring included a broadened section on the no huddle that could have the Steelers running it at any time — with various personnel packages — when the season begins in September.
Pittsburgh was 3-6 and facing Detroit in November when the Steelers opened the game in the no huddle as a way to tire out the Lions’ aggressive defensive line and limit how often they could substitute.
Roethlisberger immediately led a 68-yard touchdown drive and the lethargy and sloppiness that plagued Pittsburgh during September and October vanished. The Steelers averaged 28 points a game over the final seven weeks — up from 20 during the first nine — and came within a tiebreaker of securing an unlikely postseason berth. They did it while using the no-huddle about 40 percent of the time.
So Haley’s created more intricate no huddle packages despite losing wide receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery to free agency. He expects opponents to adjust after the Steelers ended 2013 as the hottest team in the AFC over the second half.
Roethlisberger believes he can work out of the no huddle regardless of who is alongside him in the huddle. Last year Pittsburgh’s no huddle set primarily consisted of three wide receivers, one tight end and one running back lining up next to Roethlisberger in the shotgun. That might not be the case this time.
Roethlisberger pointed to the versatility of fullback/tight end Will Johnson and the flexibility of running backs Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount as proof the Steelers will not be predictable when they start to push the tempo.
While the 6-foot-1, 230-pound Bell and the 6-1, 245-pound Blount hardly appear to be built from the same mold — Bell likes to wait behind his blockers then use his quick feet to burst forward when he sees an opening, Blount is all bulldozer — their quarterback thinks they can be interchangeable.
Roethlisberger only wants whoever it is to be productive. So does Haley after the Steelers finished in the bottom quarter of the NFL in yards rushing (25th), yards per carry (29th) and rushing touchdowns (25th).
The key to improving those numbers will rely on the health of the offensive line and the ability to keep defenses guessing. It means doing different things from the same looks.
It’s why Haley implemented the entire offense so early in the offseason rather than start slowly to give the new faces a chance to catch up. There is no time for that now, not after consecutive 8-8 seasons.
The Steelers spent a significant part of organized team activities and minicamp continuing an evolution that began last November out of despair and ended with them discovering a new identity. It’s unusual to do so much so soon. But these are unusual times for a team in transition. (Photo: Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports)
Steelers S Troy Polamalu hoping to stay and productive this season:
Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu is hoping his revamped offseason program will help him again this fall.
The 33-year-old Polamalu played nearly every snap in 2013 thanks in part to the regimen he put together with the teams trainer last spring. Sessions with a physical therapist also helped Polamalu strengthen the balky calf muscles that caused him to miss nine games in 2012.
The result was a productive season that ended with Polamalu making the Pro Bowl for the eighth time. He began minicamp on Tuesday hoping for a repeat in 2014.
The Steelers made a concerted effort to ease Polamalu’s load during the offseason. Pittsburgh lured safety Mike Mitchell away from Carolina in free agency and selected linebacker Ryan Shazier in the first round of the NFL draft.
The speed and athleticism of Mitchell and Shazier should allow Polamalu to remain in the secondary or blitz and not have to play linebacker when the Steelers switch to their nickel, dime and quarters defensive packages, something Polamalu did repeatedly in 2013. (Photo: Matt Freed/Associated Press)
Steelers sign C Maurkice Pouncey to five-year, $44 million extension:
As he lay on the Heinz Field turf last September, his right knee in tatters, Maurkice Pouncey admits there was a small part of him that feared his football career might be in jeopardy.
The Pittsburgh Steelers never doubted. They signed him to a five-year contract extension Thursday that averages $8.8 million per season, making Pouncey the highest-paid center in the NFL.
Words can’t explain it,” Pouncey said while fighting back tears, barely nine months removed from a torn ACL that ended his 2013 season moments after it began.
The only center in league history to make the Pro Bowl in each of his first three seasons is nearly all the way back from surgery to repair the knee after teammate David DeCastro fell on it eight plays into last fall’s season opener against Tennessee.
The 24-year-old Pouncey insists he’s “totally fine.” The new financial deal puts him just ahead of the agreement signed by Cleveland’s Alex Mack in April.
However, getting paid was the least of Pouncey’s concerns. Entering the final year of the contract he signed after the Steelers took him with the 18th overall selection in the 2010 draft, Pouncey simply ordered agent Jason Segal to get to work so he could move on to other things.
Namely getting the Steelers back into the postseason. Considered one of the most athletic linemen at any position in the NFL, Pouncey provides Pittsburgh with a gifted anchor to protect quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Pouncey has only played a full 16-game schedule once in his first four seasons and was forced to sit out Pittsburgh’s loss to Green Bay in the 2011 Super Bowl with a sprained ankle. Though he won’t turn 25 until August, he finds himself as the linchpin of a unit whose oldest player is 28-year-old guard Ramon Foster.
The Steelers commitment is one that never wavered as Pouncey underwent surgery and a grueling rehab last fall. Although Roethlisberger maintains Pouncey could have returned before the end of the 2013 season, the arduous recovery process isn’t quite over. While Pouncey was a full participant in organized team activities that wrapped up on Thursday, he remains involved in near daily rehab work.
The goal is to be 100 percent by training camp in July. The contract means Pouncey won’t have to deal with any potential distractions about his future. Besides, he never planned on leaving anyway. Free agency didn’t appeal to him, particularly after the loyalty shown by the Steelers from the moment they chose him to follow in a line of great centers that includes Hall of Famers Mike Webster and Dermontti Dawson. (Photo: Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press)
Best center in the league is ours for another five years!