Devin Taylor learning through highs and lows at practice

Posted Aug 1, 2013

Taylor is trying to improve his explosion off the ball and clean up some technique issues, but he's flashed enough to catch the eye of coaches

In the span of just minutes at Lions practice Thursday, Devin Taylor experienced the highs and lows that occur every day at practice for rookies throughout their first training camp.

Devin TaylorDE Devin Taylor

The defensive end, and fourth-round pick of the Lions in April, had a good one-on-one series vs. tackle Jason Fox in pass rushing drills.

A few minutes later, during an 11-on-11-team period, Taylor, who was getting first-team reps with Jason Jones, Willie Young and Israel Idonije sitting out of practice, was put on his butt following a terrific block from center Dominic Raiola.

Raiola immediate let the rookie hear about it and when Taylor got back to the sideline, veteran safety Don Carey walked over to a kneeling Taylor and said, "Welcome to the NFL."

Welcome indeed. That's life as a rookie in training camp. There will be highs and undoubtedly some lows.

"It's just learning as much and as quickly as you can," Taylor said after practice. "That way, when you step out on the field, you're ready and prepared to play. I always can get better and I'm working to get better here on the field every day."

Taylor is trying to improve his explosion off the ball and clean up some technique issues, but he's flashed enough to catch the eye of coaches.

"Devin is having an outstanding camp," head coach Jim Schwartz said. "He's one of those guys that has really shown up when the pads went on. Not only is he improving every day, but he's played his best in the full padded practices.

"He got a chance to get good reps with the first-team group out there today. He knocked down a pass at the goal line that probably would have been intercepted and did some really good things. He's got a long ways to go, but it's encouraging to see where he is."

It's certainly hard to miss Taylor out on the field; he's the one who is a helmet taller than everyone else at 6-foot-7, 276 pounds, but he does get overlooked, in a sense, because of the way the draft played out. Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah was the team's No. 1 draft pick and plays the same position as Taylor, so, naturally, Taylor has taken a back seat.

That wasn't the case Thursday, though. It was Ansah and Taylor out on the edges with the first unit. Their size and speed was noticeable. Both are raw, but every first-team rep and every missed play is a learning opportunity.

Taylor is showing a more advanced pass-rushing repertoire early in camp compared to what he had at South Carolina. He's always had to battle being tall and trying to stay low and keep leverage, but says his length and reach has allowed him to implement an effective bull rush into his game.

He said his game featured more knockdown stuff on the outside rush edge and more speed in college. Incorporating both should help his game tremendously.

"It's something I developed over the last several months," Taylor said. "I'm still trying to perfect it.

"A lot of tackles, you have different moves. You can't have one move you do all the time otherwise you become predictable. You always have to find different things that work for your body type and help you get an advantage over them."

While most eyes naturally gravitate to Ansah at practice, Taylor quietly continues to build his repertoire and gain experience through the highs and the lows of practice.