Steelers DB Victorian, Van Dyke ready for more

As the veteran member of the Pittsburgh Steelers’

otherwise-youthful cornerbacks, Ike Taylor enjoys being among the

first- and second-year players at his position meetings.

”I feel like they keep my young,” Taylor said. ”Especially

with the new young music coming up, the clothes, shoes, all that

kind of stuff.”

This week, it’s much more than music or fashion trends that have

Taylor appreciating players such as Josh Victorian, DeMarcus Van

Dyke, Curtis Brown and Robert Golden.

With Taylor sidelined with a fractured right ankle and top

reserve Cortez Allen likely out with a groin injury, the likes of

Victorian and Van Dyke are thrust into prominent roles.

Picked up late in training camp, neither was even active for

games as recently as two weeks ago. But as the Steelers (7-6) head

into Dallas (7-6), they’ll be counting on the inexperienced

cornerbacks to deal with the Cowboys’ talented receivers.

”We tried to teach these young players like they are going to

be starting because we know someday, they will be starting,”

Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said. ”Unfortunately,

we got a couple hits at the same spot. Generally speaking,

throughout the course of a season, this happens every year. It’s

not a surprise that some of these guys are going to be starting and

taking a significant amount of snaps. Hopefully they will be

prepared and answer the challenge.”

The results were mixed in this past Sunday’s game, the first

without Taylor for the Steelers since 2006. Allen made his first

career start, and fellow second-year pro Brown also was bumped up

the depth chart to play in nickel packages.

Repeatedly picking on Brown and Allen, Philip Rivers threw three

touchdown passes and was 12-for-18 when passing on third down with

eight of those completions going to receivers that either Brown or

Allen was covering.

That led to coach Mike Tomlin benching Brown in favor of

Victorian, who had been cut off the practice squad the week


While acknowledging that was ”a big step,” Victorian said he

never doubted his abilities – not when he was cut five times by

four teams in a 14-month span, and not when he was beat by Danario

Alexander for a touchdown on one of his first plays in his first

NFL regular-season game Sunday.

”To play corner not only on this team but in this league, you

have to have confidence,” the 5-foot-10 Victorian said. ”Coming

up I wasn’t always as big as everybody, so confidence is something

that has been building in me since I was a young kid. I think I’m

pretty confident now.”

Van Dyke was confident he was going to be drafted by the

Steelers in 2011 after speaking multiple times with Tomlin.

Instead, Oakland plucked him in the third round with the 81st pick,

leaving Pittsburgh with Brown at No. 95 and Allen at No. 128.

Van Dyke started four of 14 games for the Raiders as a rookie

last season but was cut at the end of this past training camp. The

Steelers were happy to scoop him up but limited him to special

teams during the first half of the season.

But multiple penalties that negated returns led to Tomlin

deactivating Van Dyke five times in a six-game span before he was

needed against the Chargers because of Taylor’s injury.

”It’s always good to put your hand in the pile, as coach Tomlin

always says,” Van Dyke said. ”I just have to go out and make

plays and help my team win this game, do what coach LeBeau and

coach Tomlin want me to do.”

During practice Friday, Victorian and Brown were the top two

corners to play after Keenan Lewis, a first-year starter who

himself fought through a minor hip injury this week. Golden, an

undrafted rookie safety, also was given reps in nickel


The Steelers secondary will depend upon to help deal with

Dallas’ Dez Bryant, Miles Austin and Jason Witten, who all are on

pace to have 1,000-yard receiving seasons. Between them, Victorian,

Van Dyke, Brown and Golden have combined for four NFL starts.

”We will need every one of them, without a doubt,” LeBeau

said. ”They will all be playing.

”Hopefully, we have some quality depth. It’s a challenge for


Notes: LB LaMarr Woodley made it through an entire week of

practice without setback or incident after missing the past

two-and-a-half games due to an ankle injury. He is listed as

probable to play Sunday. … An apparent stomach virus is making

its way through the Steelers locker room. LB James Harrison missed

practice Wednesday and Thursday due to illness, and WR Antonio

Brown, WR Plaxico Burress, reserve LB Stevenon Sylvester and LS

Greg Warren were among those who were affected by it Friday.

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