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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