User ID
Password
  Forgot User ID
or Register Today!
VegasInsider.com
Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Follow Us on Google+ VI Mobile Scores and Betting Odds
Home
NFL
NBA
NHL
MLB
NCAA FB
NCAA BK
Soccer
Golf
Auto
Horses
More
Betting Tools

 
Steelers CB Taylor welcomes shot at Calvin Johnson

New Sportsbook.ag customers: Make your 1st bet, get your 2nd bet free, 100%, winnings paid in cash.
Join Now

Already have an account? Click here to view new Exclusive Rewards!

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Forget the exotic coverage schemes. Throw out the double teams. Oh, and the triple teams too.

Advertisement
Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor figures there's only one way to keep up with Detroit wide receiver Calvin Johnson.

''You have to take him mano y mano,'' Taylor said.

Even if there is no one in the NFL, let alone the planet, is quite like the 6-foot-5, 235-pound player Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin calls ''one of the best football players, period, regardless of position, in the game of professional football.''

One that seems to get open no matter how many bodies thrown his way. It's why the Steelers (3-6) insist they're not going to abandon their usual gameplan when they face Johnson and the NFC North leading Lions (6-3) on Sunday.

''We won't try anything that hasn't been tried, and he's still about 100 yards per game and a touchdown per game,'' Tomlin said. ''We'll do the best we can.''

Pittsburgh's best starts - and in most cases - ends with Taylor. The 11-year veteran has made a career (though still not a Pro Bowl) out of finding ways to slow down the best guys on the other side of the line of scrimmage.

Name an elite receiver over the last decade and Taylor has probably lined up across from him more than once. Still, even Taylor allows Johnson provides a unique challenge. Sorry, there aren't guys Johnson's size who can out-jump, out-run and out-think everyone laying around on NFL practice squads, no offense to Steelers rookie Justin Brown, who is wearing the No. 81 orange jersey on the scout team this week.

''I'm up for it, and I'm glad the coaching staff feels that way about me,'' Taylor said. ''They like my skills and allow me to compete each week against a guy like Megatron. I'm a villain kind of guy. I like being a bad guy, so I'm going to stay on the bad-guy side.''

It's a role he's used grown used to over the last five years. Every time Pittsburgh ends up facing one of the league's elite playmakers, Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is asked what his unit could possibly do. Every time LeBeau's answer is the same: Taylor.

''He can match up with these big guys that can really run because he can really run,'' LeBeau said. ''He's been the guy that we've put on their guy ... He's a great competitor and I think he'd be disappointed if we didn't put him on (Johnson).''

The closest thing the Steelers see on a regular basis to Johnson is Cincinnati's A.J. Green, who has developed a mini-rivalry with Taylor through two-plus seasons. Taylor has limited Green to seven receptions for a pedestrian 49 yards in the last two meetings.

Still, Johnson, who sat out Lions practice on Thursday because of an ailing knee, is different. Asked to compare Green and Johnson, Tomlin was emphatic.

''There is no comparison,'' Tomlin said. ''This guy is probably 235 pounds. He's big. He's strong. He's fast. He's a big dog.''

The easiest way for the Steelers to limit Johnson's touches is LeBeau put it ''to get the quarterback on the ground.''

That hasn't happened this year. Detroit's Matthew Stafford has been sacked just 10 times despite averaging 41 pass attempts a game. Of course, it helps having a receiver who gives you a massive margin for error.

Stafford is completing nearly 62 percent of his passes, the second-best mark in his five-year career. Part of it is experience. Part of it is an improved offensive line. Part of it is the acquisition of Reggie Bush, who becomes a fifth receiver when he moves out of the backfield. And part of it is the luxury of having the confidence that if you throw it somewhere in the vicinity of Johnson, the odds are forever in his favor.

At 6-1, Taylor is bigger than the average NFL cornerback. At 33 he's on the back end of a prime that includes starting in two Super Bowls and playing on five defenses that have finished No. 1 in the league in fewest yards allowed.

Johnson might be the best receiver Taylor has ever faced. But he won't be the first.

''I remember him lining up week-in and week-out against Chad Johnson and some of those No. 1 wide receivers,'' Steelers linebacker Larry Foote said. ''If there's somebody that can do it, it's going to be him.''

NOTES: Steelers G Ramon Foster (ankle), DE Brett Keisel (foot) and LB LaMarr Woodley (calf) did not practice on Thursday and are unlikely to play on Sunday. .. Pittsburgh WR Emmanuel Sanders called Lions DT Ndamukong Suh the ''dirtiest player in the league,'' adding the Steelers are ''not going to get bullied. They can come in with all the intensity in the world, but we've just got to match it.''

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2014
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

  
HEADLINES
Marshall: Tech Trends - Week 3
Mejia: Week 3 Look-Ahead
Lawrence: Inside the Stats - Week 3
Marshall: NFL, Goodell facing heat
Falcons romp to 56-14 win over hapless Buccaneers
Eagles could be without LB Kendricks
Gates still a slam dunk for Chargers
Jets' Vick says Goodell doing 'great job'
Romo OK with approach if Cowboys win
MORE HEADLINES
 
Why Buy Picks From VegasInsider.com
NFL Pro Football Handicapper Sports Picks Records
NFL Hot Streaks
12-3 Totals TY, 23-11 L34 Picks
6-1 L7 Guarantees, 3-1 L4 Totals
4-1 Record Sunday
10-4 L14 G-Plays, 20-9 Totals TY
17-8 L25, 20-10 This Year
10-1 Guaranteed Play Streak
5-1 Record Last 6 Picks
3-1 Sunday, 4-1 L5 Over/Unders
8-4 L12 Guaranteed Plays
2-0 Sunday, 3-1 L4 Selections
6-3 Last 9 NFL Selections
3-1 Sunday, 4-1 Over/Unders TY
4-0 Guarantees This Year
NCAA FB College Football Expert Sports Picks- UCONN huskies at South Florida Bulls
2014 NFL SEASON PICK RECORDS
Money Leaders
Handicapper Money
James Manos + 880
Hank Goldberg + 852
Scott Pritchard + 655
Last Week's Leaders
Handicapper Money
Andy Iskoe + 405
Paul Bovi + 290
Chip Chirimbes + 265
Percentage Leaders
Handicapper Pct
Scott Pritchard 73 %
James Manos 67 %
Brian Edwards 63 %
Guaranteed Leaders
Handicapper Money
Scott Pritchard + 775
Antony Dinero + 630
Mike Rose + 400
Over-Under Leaders
Handicapper Money
Antony Dinero + 1030
Hank Goldberg + 875
James Manos + 480
Member Leaders
Handicapper Money
Kevin Rogers + 490
The SportsBoss + 200
Antony Dinero + 183
MORE PICK RECORDS
  
corner graphic
With a VI Gold Membership, you can SAVE 10% off a Live Odds subscription, SAVE 20% off Daily Pick packages, and receive access to up to 1,000 Member Plays each month!
VI Daily Fantasy NFL Perfect Lineup Contest