BEREA -- Cleveland Browns defensive tackle Phil Taylor spent some time with an old friend on Tuesday morning at the team’s Berea training facility.
That old friend was his former Baylor University teammate and Heisman Trophy winning quarterback, Robert Griffin III, who was in Berea with the other drafted NFC rookies for a Play 60 football event on the Browns’ practice fields.
“From seeing him the first time as a freshman in college and moving on up and getting drafted this year, he’s changed a lot and he’s going to be a great player,” Taylor said of Griffin. “I think he has a great future. I hope it’s not against us, but he’s going to have a great future.”
Griffin and Taylor talked for several minutes after the event and the Washington Redskins’ first pick in 2012 shared his memories from getting hit by Taylor in practice at Baylor. Griffin laughed at the fact that he was hit with an accidental clothes-line from Taylor, who still had the strength and quickness to catch him before the quarterback hit the ground.
“It just shows that Baylor’s one of those top teams now, too,” Taylor said of Griffin’s success. “Usually, everybody thinks of Baylor like, ‘Who’s Baylor?’ But now, it’s ‘Oh, Baylor. They have a name.’”
Taylor was in Berea as part of the rehabilitation process from surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle. He suffered the injury in the team’s offseason conditioning program and has been working hard to recover since that day on the bench press. He currently is working on range-of-motion and body-weight exercises.
Taylor’s teammate, linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, has been a source of knowledge and inspiration during the process. Jackson lost most of the 2009 season and all of 2010 with separate and consecutive pectoral tears.
“I’m just taking it one day at a time, keeping my head on straight and working hard,” Taylor said. “I’m not trying to get back too early, but am still working hard at the same time. I’m itching to get back, but I’m not going to rush it. When I know it’s time for me to be out there, I’ll get out there.”
Taylor feels with the additions of
“Paxson is right behind me and Paxson is a great player; he’s going to do (well),” Taylor said. “I’ve met John and Billy, and they’re all good guys. They’re going to play a lot this year and they’re learning. They’re doing drills together, watching tape and they’re learning. They’re learning quickly.”
Taylor, an All-Rookie Team selection by Pro Football Weekly/Pro Football Writers of America, finished his rookie season with 59 tackles and four sacks for 14 lost yards. He registered 28 of those tackles and one sack for a season-high seven lost yards over the final eight games of the season.
“I think I progressed a lot,” Taylor said. “As a rookie coming in and learning everything, in the beginning, I wasn’t playing so well. Toward the end, when I started to get things down, I started to do a lot better, but I’ve still got a long way to go. I’ve got a lot to learn.
“The NFL’s really mental. You’ve got to have a mental toughness because it’s a long season. You’ve got meetings all day, every day. If you don’t have that mental toughness, it will 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.”