Because of injuries last season, Phil Taylor was only able to start four games. And all four of those starts came at the left defensive end position.
There could be change on the horizon for Taylor.
In a media session Tuesday at the owners meetings in Phoenix, Browns coach Mike Pettine told reporters he has Taylor penciled in right now as the Browns' starting nose guard, with Ishmaa'ily Kitchen backing him up in the rotation.
For a quick breakdown, let's review each of the three main positions Cleveland employs on the defensive line.
3-technique: The 3-technique lines up on the guard's outside shoulder and is generally the more athletic pass rusher of the group. The 3-technique shoots through the B-gap on his side and is designed to be more of a defensive tackle and run stopper.
Who played this last season: Taylor, Billy Winn and John Hughes.
5-technique: The 5-technique lines up directly over the offensive tackle and is generally the player who possesses the most brute strength and athletic ability. The 5-technique is often asked to maintain his blocker in the B- and C-gap to set up other linebackers to rush the quarterback.
*Who played this last season: Desmond Bryant, Armonty Bryant (pass-rushing situations mostly) Winn and Hughes. *
Nose tackle: The nose tackle lines up directly over the center and is generally the largest player on the roster who can eat up space. Nearly every play, the nose tackle is asked to take on two blockers, freeing up middle linebackers and other defenders to make plays.
Who played this last season: Ahtyba Rubin and Ishmaa'ily Kitchen.
*While Taylor slid all over the line last season, the Browns have added a major piece to the defensive end position. Free agent acquisition Randy Starks is being viewed as a potential starter at the 3-technique opposite Bryant. Hughes was rewarded with a contract extension, showing the club's commitment to keep him on the field, while Winn and even Calvin Barnett will remain in the rotation.
Moving Taylor to nose guard seems like a natural fit. Taylor has played in the middle of the defense before in previous schemes and has the body type to succeed. The nose position in Cleveland's scheme prioritizes that the player becomes more of a decoy, freeing up Karlos Dansby and the other middle linebackers to make plays. There very well could be some play designs to free up Taylor as a pass rusher in this position, too.
Taylor has been regularly rehabbing his knee injury at the team facility in Berea throughout the offseason. The 26-year-old underwent knee surgery in early November.
The fifth-year pro is entering the final season of his contract, but told ClevelandBrowns.com earlier this offseason he’d love to retire as a Brown.