Ike likes what he sees

As he prepares to embark upon his 12th NFL season, Ike Taylor can't help but be reminded about his third.

About the defense from 2005, to be precise, one the Steelers rode all the way to the Super Bowl. And that has the veteran cornerback excited about what the defense might achieve in 2014.

"We didn't want to let each other down," Taylor remembered. "If a play happened on my man I'm (ticked) off because I feel like I let the other 10 guys down, and everybody on that defense felt like that.

"There wasn't any, 'Well, I don't care; the offseason's coming up, I'm going to get paid this year, it's all about me.' You really felt hurt when stuff happened to you. And you felt the hurt for other players when it happened to them. That's what made us so special.

"I'm telling you, I feel that way this year. I feel that way this year about this defense. We have a good group."

Taylor was adamant that he sees and senses star power as well as unselfishness and togetherness in the current defensive collection. The former is a characteristic bolstered by the addition of inside linebacker Ryan Shazier.

"He just has to be well-conditioned," Taylor said of the Steelers' No. 1 pick. "If he's well-conditioned, the sky's the limit. He's one of those (strong safety) Troy (Polamalu), (center Maurkice) Pouncey kind of guys, you can't hold him back. He has that kind of talent.

"Every few years they come and he's one of those guys."

The defense has likewise been on the come, in Taylor's estimation, in advance of Sunday's regular season opener at Heinz Field against the Cleveland Browns.

While that development hasn't necessarily been obvious in preseason games, Taylor insisted it has nonetheless taken place.

"Our growing pains have been happening during training camp and the preseason," he said. "I always say, 'Man, it's Steelers vs. Steelers.' Nine times out of nine people make plays (against the Steelers' defense) when we're not together on one page. If one guy isn't on the same page as the other 10 guys, it hurts the defense. That's what makes this defense so special.

"You're seeing that throughout the weeks. You can't turn it on and turn it off unless you're Troy. It has to gradually come on. You have to gradually build that speed up from OTAs to training camp to preseason to now. And I see it. As much as y'all probably say you can't see it,' I'm telling y'all it's going to be there. It's going to be there from Week 1."

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