|Steelers CB Mike Taylor answered his critics Wednesday, saying "Look at the stats." But the stats show that he is being victimized often by opposing offenses. (US Presswire)|
The 10-year veteran is now out to make a case for himself.
Tuesday, Taylor went on his own show on Trib Live Radio and implored observers to "look at the stats," referring to the fact the Steelers rank fifth in the league in total defense and fourth in passing defense.
But according to more advanced statistics compiled by Pro Football Focus and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Taylor is being victimized this season by opposing passing offenses.
According to the Tribune-Review, Taylor allowed eight catches by four different receivers and gave up 115 yards and a touchdown, and was targeted 15 times against the Titans. It was the most catches Taylor has allowed in 39 games.
The Trib said Taylor had been targeted 44 times in five games after being targeted 24 times and allowing only three receptions for 24 yards and no touchdowns through five games last season.
Taylor acknowledged that teams are coming after him now.
"It's going to be like that -- they're going to try me," he said. "Why wouldn't you? ... I've got 10 years of tape, so of course going into the game I know that's going to happen. What I've got to do is hold it down."
Taylor has quite the challenge this week inBengals' No. 1 WR A.J. Green. Taylor calls Green "a top-three receiver" in the league and said he would likely be shadowing him Sunday night in Cincinnati. Taylor also said he won't be asking for -- or expecting -- safety help.
Taylor was drafted in 2003, and since Mike Tomlin became coach in 2007, Taylor has usually been assigned to play "on an island" against every opponent's top receiver.
On a conference call with Pittsburgh reporters, Bengal QB Andy Dalton said he expected Taylor to follow Green.
"That's a challenge I want every week, regardless of who we're playing," Taylor said.
Adams' first start to be less 'crazy': Rookie OT Mike Adams will make his first official NFL start Sunday in Cincinnati. He had a virtual start, however, last week in Tennessee. Adams played almost the entire game at right tackle after OT Marcus Gilbert went down with an ankle injury.
"It was kind of crazy to get the, not start, but for the first game ... to play most of it was something I didn't expect," said Adams, a second-round pick from Ohio State. "But you've got to be ready to play whenever, so it was a pretty cool experience."
Adams said he "definitely" will feel more comfortable Sunday because he had the experience against the Titans. Adams said Gilbert had become one of his closer friends on the team and that the two talk regularly.
That will benefit Adams -- not just because Adams is filling in for Gilbert, but because Gilbert entered the NFL under similar circumstances. Gilbert was a second-round pick who made his debut early last season during a game when OL Willie Colon was injured.
"It's good to have that kind of support," Adams said of Gilbert.
Gilbert's status cloudy: Gilbert will not play this week, and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review quoted teammate C Maurkice Pouncey saying Wedesday afternoon that Gilbert could miss up to two months.
Gilbert took to his own Twitter account to dispute that.
"I will not be out for 2 months, ill back really really soon!" Gilbert said @MarcusGilbert88.
Another 'must-win?': Predictably, different Pittsburgh players gave mixed reactions when asked if, at 2-3, the team is facing a "must-win" when it plays its first AFC North opponent Sunday.
Some, like LB LaMarr Woodley, gave stock answers. "Every game is a must-win game for me."
Injured SS Troy Polamalu brushed off such talk: "[Must-win] may be the outside perspective. In here, we're always optimistic."
WR Mike Wallace embraced the "must-win" approach. Many were saying that about the Steelers two weeks ago against the Philadelphia Eagles. Pittsburgh won that game, 16-14.
"We need to win this game," Wallace said of the Bengals. "It's hard to come back from 2-4 -- even though it's not over like that. But who wants to be 2-4? You're behind two games, you don't want to do that, especially this early in the season when you put yourself behind the eight ball and keep trying to come out of holes.
"The deeper you get in it, the harder it's going to be to come out and everybody (in what has been a mediocre AFC) is not going to keep losing. Everybody's not going to keep being 3-3. Teams are going to pick it up and get better, and we have to be one of those teams that does pick it up and get better."