Reporting Daryl Ruiter
BEREA (92.3 The Fan) - Cleveland Browns defensive tackle Phil Taylor is on the mend.
Sidelined after tearing his left pectoral muscle, it was feared that he could miss the entire year.
But things are looking up.
“I’m doing good right now,” Taylor said. “I’m itching to get back but I’m not going to rush it. When I know it’s time for me to get out there I’ll be out there.”
Taylor spoke Tuesday as the NFL hosted a Play 60 event for local children featuring the NFC’s rookie class at the Browns training facility in Berea, OH.
The AFC rookies, including the Browns’ class, will participate Friday morning.
Taylor stopped by to visit former Baylor teammate and Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III.
Griffin, who became the first player in school history to win the Heisman trophy last season, helped to put Baylor football on the map over the last three seasons.
“It just shows that Baylor, we’re one of those top teams now too,” Taylor said. “Usually everyone thinks ‘Who’s Baylor?’ But now Baylor has a name and (people say) these guys went there.”
The Browns will host the Redskins Dec. 16 and Taylor hopes to be on the field by then to take on his former college teammate. He just doesn’t have an exact timetable for when he thinks he will play his first game.
“Whenever I’m back I’m back,” Taylor said. “I’m just taking it one day at a time.
“When I think I’m ready to play I’ll be out there.”
Taylor sustained the injury, which typically takes six to eight months to recover from, while lifting weights on May 10. He had surgery on May 16.
As he began his recovery, Taylor sought the advice of linebacker D’Qwell Jackson who sustained torn left and right pectoral injuries in back to back seasons. Jackson missed 26 games, including the entire 2010 season, before returning last year and leading the team in tackles.
Jackson told him to take it easy and not to rush back too soon. It’s advice that Taylor has taken to heart.
He has not begun lifting weights again and his workouts have been limited to range of motion activities but nothing strenuous.
As he continues his rehab program, Taylor is using another lesson that he learned as a rookie – mental toughness.
It helped him get through his first NFL season and he’s hoping that he’ll be able to use that toughness as he recovers and once he returns to the field.
“You have to have mental toughness,” Taylor said. “It’s a long season. You have meetings all day every day. If you don’t have that mental toughness it’ll get you. A lot of the older guys told me last year that it was going to be a long season and I prepared myself for it.”
With Taylor down, rookie defensive tackles John Hughes and Billy Winn could get significant playing time. He is doing his part to help the two rookies who are competing to fill his shoes.
“They’re going to play a lot this year,” Taylor said. “They’re learning. We’re doing drills together and watching tape. They’re learning and they;re learning quick.”
Taylor will likely start the season on the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list where he’ll have six weeks to begin practicing. Once he begins practicing during the season the team will have three weeks to move him to the active 53-man roster or place him on injured reserve for the year.
During his rookie season Taylor recorded 59 tackles, four sacks and a forced fumble.
“I progressed a lot as a rookie coming in and learning everything,” Taylor said. “In the beginning I didn’t play so well because I was learning but toward the end when I started to get things down I started to play better but I still have a long way to go and a lot to learn.”