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 ...
In his 14th NFL season, this veteran cornerback is having one of his best performances yet with a Vikings' defense that ranks fourth against the pass. The 38-year-old Newman is put in good situations under head coach Mike Zimmer -- the two have been together during eight seasons with three different teams (Dallas, Cincinnati and Minnesota). Newman isn't left out on the island and is working behind one of the league's best front sevens.
Newman is savvy and understands offenses very well. The rangy corner's playing style is similar to Kansas City sophomore Marcus Peters. Though they are on opposite ends of the spectrum in age, they both like to play off the line of scrimmage, see the entire field and react off their instincts.
Through Week 7, Newman has allowed just 15 receptions on 38 targets (39.5 percent) for 130 yards (8.7 yards per catch). He has five passes defensed and one interception -- off the 2015 league MVP Cam Newton in Week 3 -- while not giving up a touchdown in six games. Opposing quarterbacks have a 38.3 passer rating when targeting Newman this season.
Week 8 cornerback rankings: My top 10
These rankings are all about what the corners have done lately -- and since Week 3, Peterson has been consistently shutting it down while covering the opponent's best receiver. In the last five games, he has allowed 10 catches for 151 yards on 21 targets, with a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 0:1.
He deserves this spot and will have another tough test this week when Arizona travels to play Carolina. Remember the last time the Cards played in Charlotte? They suffered a 49-15 thumping in last season's NFC Championship Game. Peterson will have to defend the jump ball against Kelvin Benjamin. The Panthers receiver frequently wins these battles when Cam Newton throws the ball in his vicinity.
Norman slips down to No. 2 after giving up three catches for 80 yards (26.7 yards per catch) on four targets against Matthew Stafford's Lions. There have been several games this season where Norman has given up a lot of yards against good (not great) receivers. On one third-quarter play Sunday, Lions wideout Marvin Jones beat Norman for a 52-yard grab. The play was Norman's last of the game -- he exited after suffering a concussion. He still remains in the concussion protocol and is questionable for this weekend's contest against the Bengals in London.
If Norman plays, he'll occasionally see a crafty A.J. Green, who can run any route. If the two do face each other, Norman must make the tackle immediately if and when Green catches the football.
In a very defensive game against the Cardinals, Sherman surprisingly struggled. He allowed five receptions for 104 yards on eight targets. Because he takes on so much, I'm keeping him at No. 3, but I'd like to see him rebound this week in New Orleans. He'll get a chance to have a big game against a pass-happy, Drew Brees-led offense.
Pacman continues to be a consistent part of the Bengals' secondary. Last week, among cornerbacks who logged at least 25 plays, he was targeted the second-fewest times. Jones gave up one catch for 17 yards on two targets against the Browns. He hasn't given me a reason to move him from this spot. On to London ...
In Brock Osweiler's return to Denver, the Broncos made sure he wouldn't go home a winner. Aqib Talib and the rest of the "No Fly Zone" helped hold the Texans quarterback to 131 passing yards. Talib allowed just five catches for 42 yards on 12 targets -- including 27 yards on seven targets to DeAndre Hopkins. This is the kind of performance Denver needed to help it get back in the win column. The team has another chance for revenge this week when Philip Rivers' Chargerscome to town.
Drew Brees was smart enough to throw away from Peters in Week 7. Peters, who leads the league in INTs with five, faced the fifth-fewest targets among cornerbacks who had a 25-play minimum. The Chiefs' young CB gave up three catches for 27 yards on three targets. This week, T.Y. Hilton should present a nice challenge.
DRC came up big for the Giants in London, picking off Case Keenum twice -- including one that ended the Rams' hopes of tying the game with under a minute left. In total, DRC gave up five receptions for 41 yards on 12 targets and recorded two picks and three passes defensed. The Giants' cornerback group is doing some good things this season, as Janoris Jenkins is also holding his own. But I really like what DRC brings to the table, as he doesn't give up much while playing outside and inside.
See: featured section above.
Along with Talib, Harris did his job against Osweiler and the Texans. This was one of the duo's best performances of the season. After giving up a touchdown in Week 6, Harris bounced back by allowing four catches for 11 yards on seven targets Monday. This is the kind of performance he is capable of, and you can bet he's going get his revenge against San Diego's Hunter Henry -- the player who caught the TD against Harris in Week 6 -- on Sunday.
Y'all have been asking about this guy for weeks, and after evaluating all of these corners, he's finally cracked the top 10. Since he's been healthy, Rhodes has been the stud the Vikings have been looking for at the position -- and I think a lot of that has to do with what he's learned from Newman. The former first-round pick is big (6-foot-1, 218 pounds) and physical -- thus, effective against big receivers -- and specializes in bump-and-run coverage. He's coming off a huge Week 7 performance that saw him make an impressive diving interception and force a fumble. When covering top receivers Kelvin Benjamin, Odell Beckham Jr. and DeAndre Hopkins in his first three games this season, Rhodes gave up one TD (to Hopkins).
I can't wait to watch Rhodes cover Alshon Jefferyin this week's Monday night game, especially with Jay Cutlerback on the field. These two are not even in their primes yet, but are capable of being in the upper echelon at their respective positions. The winner of this matchup will be the player who brings down the jump ball.