Tyrod Taylor faces off against his former team for the first time later this week. But if you're expecting the Browns quarterback to make Friday's game against the Bills bigger than a preseason home opener, you'll be disappointed.
"This game isn't about them, nor just me or our relationship," Taylor said Tuesday. "It is about us taking another step and getting better. It is Week 2 of the preseason, you want to see work at every position in all phases from the first week. So that's more so what this game is about."
Taylor spent the past three seasons with the Bills, a span in which he lifted them to their first playoff berth in 17 years only to be traded to Cleveland a few months later.
The dual-threat Taylor earned a trip to the Pro Bowl in 2015 and amassed the most combined touchdowns (65) and the second-most wins (23) by a Buffalo quarterback in his first three years. An exceptionally brief midseason benching for then-rookie backup Nathan Peterman, however, foreshadowed the end of his time there. Taylor, reinstated at halftime of a loss to the Chargers in November, finished out the season before the Bills dealt him in March in exchange for a third-round draft pick.
While motivated by that whole experience, he harbors neither ill will nor hard feelings regarding his time in Buffalo. Taylor — who spent his first four seasons backing up Joe Flacco in Baltimore — signed with the Bills in free agency and earned a starting job.
"It was a learning curve for me. Of course, when I walked into Buffalo a lot of different people really didn't know my name," he said. "I was able to win the starting job … there was a lot that was accomplished in those years. I'm thankful for those opportunities – more so glad for the opportunity that I have here."
In Cleveland, Taylor is the team's 29th starting quarterback since 1999, and there's reason to believe he might be the best of the bunch. On the field, he throws the ball where it's supposed to go and on time. Off the field, he's endeared himself to everyone in the building — players, coaches and ownership — with a work ethic matched by few.
His understudy, rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield, hasn't noticed any difference in Taylor's preparation this week. "He's the same guy every day," he said. "That's what you want. For him, it's just another business day."
To be sure, the competitor in Taylor is looking forward to squaring off against his former teammates and former employer. But he won't turn the evening into something it's not.
"It's an opportunity for us to get better as a team and an opportunity for me to get better as a player," he said. "I'm looking forward to this week."