Ike Taylor is no stranger to being on an island. The former Steelers cornerback helped Pittsburgh win two Super Bowls during his 12-year career. In this series, Taylor will feature one pertinent cornerback on "Ike's Island," where he breaks down the player's on-field performance and significance heading into the coming week. In addition, he lists his updated top-10 cornerback rankings.
Featured on Ike's Island this week ...
The Los Angeles defense has led the team to a surprising 3-1 record (tied with Seattle at the top of the NFC West), so it's time we turn our attention to this Rams secondary -- and specifically, CB Trumaine Johnson. The fifth-year pro is a solid cornerback and the main reason why the team didn't mind letting Janoris Jenkins go in the offseason. Johnson, who has eight passes defensed this year, is a big corner (6-foot-2, 208 pounds) with short-man quickness. He can get in and out of breaks quickly from a lateral standpoint and high-points the ball especially well. He has shown flashes of greatness in the first quarter of the season, but I need him to be more consistent on the island.
In the first two games of the season -- a shutout loss to the 49ers and a tight 9-3 win over Seattle in the home opener -- Johnson allowed four receptions for 13 yards on seven targets. Lately, though, he's struggled a bit. While shadowing Bucs star Mike Evans in Week 3, he gave up 10 receptions for 120 yards and a TD. And last week in the Rams' road win in Arizona, Johnson gave up six catches for 93 yards on 12 targets. That is 15.5 yards per catch, which is too much for my liking. He did, however, record his first interception of the season and had other opportunities for picks in that game.
I think Johnson takes plays off mentally, and cornerbacks can't do that in this league or they'll show up on the wrong side of the highlights. If he is on the field 100 plays, he needs to play 100 of them full out. Right now, he's playing 98.
Johnson will have a good test this weekend when Tyrod Taylor and the Bills come to town. Taylor extends a lot of plays and has many opportunities to step outside the pocket. Buffalo's wideouts have a lot of time to separate, so Johnson and the rest of the Rams' secondary must plaster the receivers. I'm eager to see if Johnson can do that and still make plays.
Week 5 cornerback rankings: My top 10
Sherman proved why he deserves this ranking against the Jets on Sunday. In the first half, New York quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick had success throwing back-shoulder passes to Brandon Marshall, making the Jets the first team to score a touchdown on Sherman this season. Sherman was sitting on top of Marshall, challenging Fitzpatrick to throw over the top, but got beat on the back-shoulder throw. At halftime, Sherman evaluated his play, made the adjustment and sat underneath Marshall in the second half. The result: two interceptions. He continues to impress, and I wouldn't expect anything less from Sherman.
Even when other Cardinals (1-3) struggled Sunday against the Rams, Peterson held strong. He allowed one reception for 8 yards (to Tavon Austin). He takes on any challenge and has consistently produced. Peterson is doing all he can, and hopefully, Arizona improves if and when Honey Badger returns to his bread-and-butter slot corner position.
Talib is tied for second in the league in INTs with three (behind Marcus Peters' four). The Broncos vet had two against Jameis Winston in stormy Tampa Bay on Sunday. The thing I love about Talib is he's not just trying to make an interception and get down. His goal is to score, and that's the entire mindset of the "No Fly Zone."
This weekend's Falcons-Broncos contest could be the best bout of Week 5. The Falcons lead the league in passing yardsand total offense, while the Broncos rank fourth in total defenseand second in pass defense. Matt Ryan and Julio Jonesput on a show against Carolina's rookie cornerback duo, and all three of Denver's corners -- Talib, Chris Harris Jr. and Bradley Roby -- will have an opportunity to line up across Jones, who leads the league in receiving yards (488). I expect these three CBs to do well, considering they play behind one of the best front sevens in the league.
I felt like last weekend's contest was a trap game for Norman, as we're just finding out what kind of receiver Terrelle Pryor is (he switched from quarterback to wideout prior to the 2015 season). And from what I can see, Pryor is going to be a heck of weapon if he can stay healthy. Against Pryor, Norman gave up four catches for 42 yards and a touchdown on eight targets. Norman kept his cool and ended up picking off Browns rookie Cody Kessler. Norman has been doing his part for the Redskins -- despite struggling a bit against nemesis Odell Beckham Jr. -- and is a bright spot for this mediocre team (2-2).
I would love to see Norman match up against Steve Smith this weekend in Baltimore. We all know what Smith brings to the table: everything. If Norman travels, he will have his hands full, but I think he's up for the challenge. What a matchup this would be between two feisty, passionate players.
It's a good thing Jones bounced back with a good performance after a poor outing against Denver in Week 3 (eight catches for 118 yards and a TD on nine targets). In Week 4 vs. the Dolphins, Pacman was targeted just once and didn't allow a reception. I need him to repeat against a surging Cowboys team (3-1). Whether or not Dallas star Dez Bryant plays Sunday, Jones and the Bengals' D will have to be sharp against the rookie duo (Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott), which is working behind a top-notch O-line.
I can't say enough about this guy and what he means to Denver's defense. He continues to do his job well, as he allowed Mike Evans only 23 yards on six targets Sunday. Through four weeks, Roby has yet to give up a touchdown and that is the reason why he is steadily climbing my CB ranks.
Harris continues to be very smooth with his footwork, but he slid down based on his performance against the Bucs. He gave up three receptions for 40 yards. Although he's not giving up many receptions, that yards per catch (13.3) is too much for my liking. In total this season, Harris has allowed 10 catches for 111 yards for an average of 11.1 yards per catch. That's a first down on every completed pass.
The Giants could've used DRC on the field Monday night, as the Vikings and Sam Bradford outplayed Eli Manning and Co. The Giants' corner suited up, but was only available in an emergency because he's dealing with a groin injury. I felt wrong dropping him in the rankings since he was unable to play, but I need to see him out there against Green Bay on Sunday night. There are a lot of good corners on the outside looking into this list who have an opportunity to crack the top 10 next week.
The Steelers exposed Peters' weakness on Sunday night. Peters loves sitting on short routes and breaking on the ball, so Ben Roethlisberger used that to his advantage and went deep. Peters wasn't targeted when covering Antonio Brown, but he did give up four receptions for 83 yards (an average of 20.7 yards per catch) on six targets against other receivers.
Peters, who leads the league in INTs through four weeks, has to adjust and see what teams are seeing. I still love the way he plays, but I want to see how he answers when opponents throw the deep ball against him.
The fourth-year Falcon, who reminds me of Asante Samuel, is somewhat small in stature (6-0, 190 pounds), but he plays the ball well. This week, Trufant and the Falcons must contain the Broncos' receivers -- Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders -- and the rest of the offense because their own offense probably won't produce the 38 points per game the team has relied on thus far, going against Denver's stout defense.