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. For the second straight year, Taylor's weekly series 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 and top-three CB duos.
Featured on Ike's Island this week ...
By now, the football world is familiar with the rivalry between Aqib Talib and Michael Crabtree, especially after last week's scuffle. The two got into an in-game altercation that involved Talib pulling off the receiver's gold necklace -- for the second straight year. The skirmish escalated with punches and so on, and both players were ejected from Sunday's game -- and suspended for one game -- for their roles in the scuffle.
This hasn't been the only CB-WR encounter of the season. Jacksonville's Jalen Ramsey and Cincinnati's A.J. Green got into it in Week 9, with both getting ejected but not suspended. Tampa Bay's Mike Evans and New Orleans' Marshon Lattimore also had an encounter in their Week 9 meeting. Neither player was ejected, but Evans was suspended for one game.
Corners/receivers are a different breed. Being alone on the island and competing one-on-one is unlike anything else in football. Players have to have a confident -- almost cocky -- attitude, and the very best at both positions possess just that. Look, I'm not going to sit here and condemn these guys for engaging in these skirmishes because I've been guilty of doing the same. Stakes are high and players don't think of the consequences, but it's necessary that they play within the rules.
A lot is at stake at this time of year, with the playoffs a little more than a month out. It's a fine line between hurting your team and standing up for yourself. However, players of this level -- all six of the CBs and WRs involved in the scuffles listed above were drafted in the first round -- must find a way to battle and stay within the rules. I'm all for players proving themselves to other players and teams, but do it with your play. Ejections and suspensions, especially involving star players, are so detrimental. After the whistle blows, stay within yourself, get hyped and use it on the next play.
Week 13 cornerback rankings: My top 10
Peterson was targeted just twice by Blake Bortles last week and gave up one catch for 7 yards. Not shocked. This week against Sammy Watkins, Peterson has the advantage. Watkins tends to run under the ball while Peterson jumps up for it. Go and post routes will be tough for Watkins against the shutdown corner.
The Rams' defense shut down Drew Brees and the marching Saints, who lost for the first time since Sept. 17. Johnson allowed three receptions for 41 yards in coverage and dropped a pass that was gift-wrapped by Brees in the fourth quarter. This week, Johnson faces Larry Fitzgerald in a rematch of Week 7, when Fitzgerald had two receptions for 21 yards against the Rams' CB1. Johnson should do well again, as he hasn't allowed a touchdown in coverage this season.
A lot of Johnson's success is due to his work with Rams cornerbacks coach Aubrey Pleasant and sharpening his technique. He has great patience at the line and is seeing plays before they happen. Currently on a one-year contract, Johnson's due for a big payday.
Before their game last Sunday, future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald had some high praise for the young cornerback who injured his hand in practice. " Jalen Ramsey with one hand is better than 95 percent of the cornerbacks in the league," Fitzgerald said. I couldn't agree more. Ramsey proved it was true when he held Fitzgerald to minus-4 yards on four targets.
Some interesting notes from Next Gen Stats on Norman vs. Dez Bryant: Norman hasn't shadowed Bryant since he played for the Panthers in 2015, covering Bryant only when the receiver lined up out wide last season. Bryant's never totaled more than 32 yards or recorded a touchdown against Norman.
In their Week 8 meeting, Dak Prescott nearly avoided Norman entirely, targeting Bryant just once when guarded by the stud corner.
Harris was close to to joining Aqib Talib and Michael Crabtree on Sunday. Luckily, the struggling Broncos will have Harris on Sunday. The seventh-year cornerback played quite well against the Raiders, giving up just one reception.
If Trufant wants to continue his stellar play against the Vikings, he can't get caught looking in the backfield. Minnesota's Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen are exceptional route runners and burn corners who get caught peaking at the QB. This will be a big test for the Falcons cornerback.
***UPDATE:** Trufant (concussion) has been ruled out for Sunday's game.*
Rhodes was kept busy by Marvin Jones Jr. on Thanksgiving Day . The Vikings' CB1 allowed more than 100 yards and two touchdowns on seven targets, but countered in the best way possible: making a game-sealing pick. This week, he draws Julio Jones, who had 253 receiving yards last Sunday. Rhodes has had the upper hand in the past, holding Jones to four receptions on seven targets for 45 yards in two meetings (Week 12, 2015; Week 4, 2014). These two compare in size -- Rhodes checks in at 6-foot-1 and 218 pounds, while Jones stands 6-3, 220 -- so I'm expecting a physical matchup.
Last year's interceptions leader has three picks in the past two games, bringing his season total to four. Hayward is tied for third in the NFL in interceptions and ranks No. 1 in pass breakups with 20. The thing is, he is one of the best players on the Chargers' defense, but doesn't give a ton of credit.
WEEK 13 CORNERBACK DUOS: MY TOP THREE
The Jaguars must bounce back after a bad loss to the Arizona Cardinals. To do it, stopping T.Y. Hilton will be the key. In three career meetings against Hilton, Ramsey has kept him from getting into the end zone and allowed 103 yards on eight catches (15 targets). Ramsey and Bouye have been consistently dominant this season, and the Colts aren't likely to change that.
*Next up: vs. Indianapolis Colts, 1 p.m. ET on Sunday.*
In coverage, this tandem kept the Saints' passing attack out of the end zone. That's an impressive feat any time Drew Brees is throwing the ball. If Los Angeles' pass-rush pressures Blaine Gabbert like it did Brees, these cornerbacks shouldn't get into much trouble.
*Next up: at Arizona Cardinals, 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday.*
I truly believe the Ravens are one of the scariest teams in the league right now. This defense is performing when it counts. Since Week 8, the Ravens have held opposing quarterbacks to a league-worst 64.6 passer rating and 9:17 TD-to-INT ratio. With the help of a mean pass rush, Smith and Carr have been doing their part in the secondary.
*Next up: vs. Detroit Lions, 1 p.m. ET on Sunday.*