Taywan Taylor knew he’d be in Cleveland on Sunday. He just didn’t expect what happened eight days before the Browns take on the Titans in the Week 1 season opener at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Taylor, a former third-round pick out of Western Kentucky, was traded from the Titans to the Browns on Saturday -- one of a handful of moves made by general manager John Dorsey to shore up Cleveland’s roster before the NFL’s mandated cut down to 53. At the time of the trade, Taylor became one of just five receivers in a room that features Pro Bowlers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry. By Monday’s practice, he was the sixth, as KhaDarel Hodge came to Cleveland via waivers from the Los Angeles Rams.
Taylor’s had since Saturday to dive into the Browns’ playbook and there’s a strong possibility he’ll be asked to contribute in some fashion against his old team.
“We give him a specific position and let him learn it,” Browns coach Freddie Kitchens said. “That’s our job to coach him and that’s his job to learn. I feel pretty confident with not just him, but the other guys, too.”
Check out photos of the newest Browns by team photographer Matt Starkey
Taylor, a 5-foot-11, 203-pound prototypical slot receiver, is coming off a season in which he caught 37 passes for 466 yards and a touchdown. Two of Taylor’s best games as a pro came near the end of last season, as he racked up three catches for 104 yards Week 13 against the Jets and followed with six catches for 59 yards against the Jaguars the following week. He’s appeared in 29 games since Tennessee made him the 72nd overall pick in the 2017 draft.
Now, he’s facing an unexpected fresh start on a team with similarly high expectations for 2019.
“It’s a dream come true,” Taylor said. “Just knowing I’ve got guys like Odell and Juice and Rashard (Higgins), those guys bring it every day and come to work. It’s going to be an honor just to be behind those guys, just to learn and soak in that knowledge. I’m ready to soak it up and go to work
“This team is young and hungry and everyone wants to win and everybody’s hungry for wins. I’m looking forward to it.”
Taylor’s excitement elevated Saturday when Dorsey connected him with Landry. His first reaction?
“That’s Jarvis Landry!”
“It gave me a great feeling,” Taylor continued. “These guys are open-minded, they’re down to listen to whatever. Odell told me today I can come to him for whatever. That just makes me feel a thousand times better that he has the confidence in me. It’s going to be fun.”
Taylor said he received another confidence boost during his conversations with Dorsey, who told Taylor he remembered being impressed by him at the 2017 Senior Bowl. Dorsey said Taylor’s “element of speed” and experience as a No. 3 receiver made him an alluring addition to an already talented group of playmakers.
Taylor just has to use that speed to get up to speed in time for Sunday’s showdown with a team he knows quite well.
“I could not be any more happy to be here in Cleveland, great city, great organization, very promising,” Taylor said. “Just to be around all these great guys, an elite receiver room, I just can not wait to get out there and just get with the guys and be able to learn. Come in, work hard and just go out there and be ready to play."