The slapped hands cornerback Ike Taylor periodically exchanged upon his arrival at OTAs served two purposes, to congratulate teammates in some cases and to make the acquaintance of teammates in others.
"A little of both," Taylor confirmed.
Taylor, who turned 34 on May 5, remains where he's been since the Steelers drafted him on the fourth round of the 2003 NFL Draft out of Louisiana-Lafayette. But the components of the other 10 starters on defense have been changing regularly and rather dramatically lately, with LaMarr Woodley, Brett Keisel, and Ryan Clark the most recent departures.
"There are a whole lot of new faces," Taylor observed. "That's a good and bad thing. It's a good thing that I'm still here. I'll give a shout out to everybody who left. But football is football. Football, you have to understand as a player, is a business. You never know when your time comes. Just for the moment you have to enjoy it."
Heading into his 12th NFL season, Taylor apparently has a handle on how that concept should best be embraced.
Other subjects he broached with the media after OTA No. 4 included:
The Steelers not drafting a cornerback in the first round: "You just never know with Pittsburgh. We could talk about who they should pick. Pittsburgh has been doing this for years. They always draft somebody either under the radar or someone that's you'd say, 'Holy moly.'"
Whether the Steelers not drafting a cornerback until the fifth round was an endorsement of Taylor for the 2014 season: "It's going to be what it's going to be, regardless. I can't tell you when the last time the team drafted a cornerback in the first round. Chad Scott (in 1997), I just told you. But other than that this team has the formula. They go from the third and fourth round and pick cornerbacks. They've been to three Super Bowls and won two (since Taylor's arrival in 2003)."
His 2013 season: "It was a so-so year. 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."
Whether he has to prove he's still capable this season: "Yes. I feel like that every year. Every year, regardless of what kind of year we had and I had. I feel like I have to prove my love to football every year."
The Steelers' transitioning, new-look defense: "Super-duper fast. (Cornerback) William Gay texted me all last week saying, 'Hey man, I'm telling you it's like a track meet on defense, from the defensive line all the way back to the secondary. These boys are running.' When you look at it on the field and you actually play with them, you can see that they are running."
Strong safety Troy Polamalu's absence from OTAs: "Troy's doing well. You know Troy around this time – he's probably somewhere up in the mountains with the monks, praying. So you gotta let Troy be Troy."
Whether the 2014 season will be his last: "I don't know; whenever the ball drops. All I know is that I'm going to enjoy myself, try to help this team as much as possible, be the best teammate, be the best everything for this city, and let the chips fall where they may."