When Tyrod Taylor reported for duty earlier this spring, the Browns quarterback made it a point to shake as many hands as possible as he worked to build chemistry with his new teammates.
As Cleveland wraps up mandatory minicamp — the final phase of offseason workouts — it's plenty clear that the veteran has already left a mark in Berea as the Browns prepare for what they hope is a big 2018 season.
"It takes time to learn the guys on both sides of the ball. It takes time to learn the building. But as far as me commanding and taking control of the huddle, taking control of groups when we're working out and speaking up when stuff needs to be said, I definitely feel comfortable in doing that," said Taylor, whom the Browns acquired in a March trade.
"I think guys respect that."
Taylor, a three-year starter for the Bills, gives Cleveland arguably its best quarterback in more than a decade. A dynamic threat through the air and on the ground, the 28-year-old helped Buffalo snap a 17-year playoff drought last season and — along the way — amassed the most combined touchdowns (65) and the second-most wins (23) by a Bills quarterback in his first three years.
But what has really endeared teammates to Taylor is his work ethic, leadership and a quiet confidence. His veteran presence — he enters his eighth NFL season — has been a refreshing one for a team that has long yearned for a proven option at the sport's most-important position.
"I think the players follow him. If you ask our players—to a man—offensively and defensively, who they look to, they look to him," head coach Hue Jackson said Tuesday. "He's done a good job in the building. He's done a good job on the field. I think he has kind of established himself.
"Obviously, he has the experience to back it up and the wins to back it up. I think he's showing and displaying what a pro starting quarterback should do at practice. He's making plays, directing things and doing all of that. To me, he has done a really good job."
Taylor will have plenty of offensive talent around him, too. In addition to a veteran and talented offensive line, Cleveland executed a big-time trade for former Dolphins wide receiver and three-time Pro Bowler Jarvis Landry and returns playmakers in Duke Johnson Jr. (who recently inked an extension) and Josh Gordon.
Taylor, who hosted an impromptu workout in South Florida shortly after joining the club, said he plans to continue building relationships with his teammates. "I think it's carried over to our bond on the field now," he said. "We trust one another, and that's going to continue to keep growing. There's definitely a room for that once we break here, let guys get back and settle with their families, but at the same time get back to work before we come back."
It's all given Taylor and Co. reason to be optimistic after laying something of a foundation for next season. The goal, of course, is to take another step forward in training camp later this summer.
"We can be very good. But me standing here saying that doesn't mean anything. It's about the mindset and attitude day in and day out," he said. "Internally, we know what we have and what we can do. It's up to us to go out there and make sure that it happens."