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 play and significance heading into the coming week. In addition, he lists his updated top-10 cornerback rankings.
Featured on Ike's Island this week ...
Prior to Cowboys training camp, one question was whether or not Claiborne could rewrite his narrative in his fifth professional season. So far, I'd say he's doing just that. Outside of moving to the left side of the defense, the biggest difference in him is his confidence. From experience, I know that if you don't play with confidence, you're just another body on the field and you're not doing yourself or the team justice by being out there. But now, I can tell Claiborne is comfortable out there -- as a result, he's a different player, he's trusting himself and he's making big plays in the secondary.
Claiborne has yet to give up a touchdown this season, and he had one of his biggest tests in the second half of last week's game. The Bengals came out of the break trying to establish star receiver A.J. Green, and Claiborne did a good job at containing the crafty wideout, holding him to three catches for 41 yards on four targets in the game. Claiborne had two situational plays in the contest when he broke up two deep throws -- one to Green and the other to Brandon LaFell -- in the end zone. The former LSU ballhawk has one pick this season and has put himself in good position week in and week out (he has four pass breakups).
This week, the Cowboys travel to play the Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, who are still trying to their hit stride on offense. Rodgers has thrown for just 876 yards in four games, but his connection with receiver Jordy Nelson hasn't skipped a beat. With the No. 1 receiver's return, Davante Adams and Randall Cobb are coming along. Nelson is a combat catcher similar to Brandon Marshall, Adams has size and speed, and Cobb is elusive and quick. With these three receivers, Claiborne is going to face his toughest challenge of the season. To have success, he needs to tackle well and keep his eyes clean -- he must not peak back at the quarterback, must stay in close relationship to the receivers.
Week 6 cornerback rankings: My top 10
Coming off a bye, facing Matt Ryan and the Falcons' offense will be no easy task for Sherman. He is likely to follow dynamic WR Julio Jones, and I expect this matchup to be very physical. The Legion of Boom's vocal leader possesses the rare quality of being patient at the line in press coverage. He's great at re-routing receivers and using his hands to throw off the timing between quarterback and receiver. If Sherman can take the space out of Jones' route tree and squeeze between Jones and the sideline, he'll be successful this weekend.
Looking back at Sherman's work over his first four weeks, he allowed 11 receptions for 143 yards on 23 targets, had a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 1:2 and defended three passes. He's held the top spot here for five straight weeks. Feel free to tweet your thoughts on my rankings here: @Ike_SwagginU.
Peterson continues to be a bright spot for the Cardinals. Last week in Santa Clara, he was targeted just once -- an incomplete pass to Torrey Smith. In the last three weeks, Peterson has given up three receptions for 32 yards on 11 targets, while having a TD-to-INT ratio of 0:1. This Week 6 matchup with Brandon Marshall should be a fun one to watch.
Of all corners who played in at least 25 plays in Week 5, Norman was the fifth-least targeted. On three targets, he allowed one reception for nine yards against Baltimore. Norman, who has eight passes defensed and one INT this season, has handled his business on a weekly basis, allowing him to move up to No. 3 on this list -- the highest he's been this season.
The Broncos' defense struggled by their standards against the Falcons last week, allowing more points (23), total yards (372), passing yards (250) and yards per play (6) than in any other game this season. Falcons QB Matt Ryan put up the highest passer rating (98.4) vs. Denver of any opposing QB in last 13 games, including playoffs.
Denver's CB trio (Talib, Chris Harris Jr. and Bradley Roby) allowed less than 100 receiving yards and didn't give up a touchdown. The Falcons' running backs (Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman) took advantage when matched up against Denver linebackers, which helped hand the Broncos their first loss of the season. In the contest, Talib gave up two receptions for 34 yards on four targets, and 20 of those yards went to Julio Jones.
Although the Bengals were run over by the Cowboys last week, Pacman had another solid outing. He allowed two catches for 35 yards on five targets. I'd still like to see him give up fewer yards per catch, though (14.3 is a lot). It won't get any easier this week when the Bengals travel to take on Tom Brady's Patriots.
Since allowing Kelvin Benjamin a TD in Week 1, Harris hasn't let a receiver get in the end zone when he's been targeted. Last week, he had the best performance out of Denver's CB group. He allowed two receptions for 18 yards on six targets -- 9 yards on two targets to Julio Jones. Looking ahead to Thursday's AFC West bout vs. the Chargers, the Broncos' secondary matches up well against San Diego's receivers, especially with Keenan Allen on injured reserve.
The Giants enjoyed the return of DRC on Sunday night in Green Bay after the CB missed Week 4 with a groin injury. Even though the Packers' offensive line gave Aaron Rodgers plenty of time in the pocket, the secondary did a good job of plastering the receivers. Although fellow Giants corner Janoris Jenkins was the standout in this game (two INTs and three passes defensed), DRC shut down his side. He was only targeted twice all night -- both against Jordy Nelson -- and didn't allow a reception.
Coming off a bye week, Peters jumps right back into the thick of things in Oakland, where he'll go against Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper. Crabtree is a savvy veteran who doesn't always run good routes but knows how to create space. Meanwhile, Cooper's God-given ability coupled with his size (6-foot-1, 210 pounds) allows him to dominate opponents -- I like to think of him as a bulkier Jerry Rice. Cooper and Crabtree like doing double moves in their routes, so Peters must keep his eyes clean in order to stay with them downfield.