Jamar Taylor's fresh start with the Browns began with a number he didn't exactly covet.
Head down and ready to work, the fourth-year defensive back wore No. 27 with pride throughout a preseason that saw him ascend the depth chart and enter the season as a first-team cornerback alongside Joe Haden. Now wearing No. 21, a throwback to his Pop Warner and Boise State past, Taylor has that same mindset and work ethic as he prepares for his first official start with the Browns on Sunday in Philadelphia.
"I'm excited. I'm more excited for the team than just myself," Taylor said Thursday. "We've been working hard. We've just been hammering at the nail. I'm kind of excited to see what we put on tape Sunday."
Taylor will be one of three new starters to a Browns secondary that needed to heal up, plug holes and shore up its coverage. Cleveland will use two new safeties, Ibraheim Campbell and Jordan Poyer, and have a familiar face at a new place, as veteran Tramon Williams will see plenty of snaps as the nickel cornerback.
"Jamar Taylor, we are happy to have him," Browns coach Hue Jackson said. "He has done a great job playing on the other corner. We feel good about our secondary. We feel like we can cover people. We are sure we are going to get tested this Sunday."
A former second-round pick with the Dolphins, Taylor, acquired in a swap of seventh-round picks during the 2016 draft, was one of a number of players simply vying simply for a spot in the room. By the end of the first week of training camp, though, it became clear Taylor, regardless of the number on his back, was here to stay.
In Cleveland's first preseason game, Taylor emerged as the top option in the slot on the Browns' nickel defense. By the dress rehearsal game in Tampa, he had taken over as a starter on the outside and he hasn't looked back since.
"Different mindset, different team. I feel way better," Taylor said. "Got a great group of guys, great group of coaches. It's a way better feeling when you've got people pushing you to be the best. What you put on tape is going to get you on the field. It's been fun.
Last week's trade of Justin Gilbert allowed Taylor to wear the number he wanted for years in Miami, but only received in the two months before he was traded. In a tribute to Deion Sanders, whom he idolized growing up as a promising defensive back, Taylor wore it as a freshman and sophomore at Boise State before switching to No. 5, the number his father and uncle wore during their playing days.
Now that he has the number he's always wanted in the NFL, Taylor wants to continue checking off goals on his list during this new chapter of it.
"I feel good. I feel like I'm an old young guy," Taylor said. "Got a lot of experience but at the same time I've got guys like Joe and Tramon who have way more experience. I'm still learning but at the same time I'm able to teach. It's great to have those guys and it's great to be a guy who people can ask questions to as well."