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Devin Taylor's confidence high as season approaches

Devin Taylor played the best stretch of football over his three-year career during the last six games of last season. He recorded 4.5 sacks over that span and had 14 quarterback hurries, which were ninth most in the league.

That stretch put Taylor's confidence level through the roof as he enters the 2016 season now a full-time starter opposite Ziggy Ansah.

"It actually helped a lot," Taylor said after a recent training camp practice. "Coming in there's a different level of confidence, especially from last year to this year, because you saw what you can do. Now, it's seeing what you can do for an entire year."

Taylor is certainly going to get more opportunities to make plays as a starter. He played a healthy 565 snaps on defense last season, but his career average is just 372 a season.

By comparison, Ansah, who's been a starter since entering the NFL in the same draft class in 2013, played 671 snaps a season ago and has averaged 659 per year over his first three seasons.

"Right now everything is just little finite technique things here and there," Taylor said of what he's focused on in camp.

"For me, just to really perfect when I get into game scenario situations to be successful."

Ansah, Taylor and veteran Wallace Gilberry appear to be the top three edge rushers so far through camp, with Brandon Copeland, Quanterus Smith, Anthony Zettel and Deonte Gibson trying to fall into place behind them.

"I've noticed that he's obviously gotten better," head coach Jim Caldwell said of Taylor after Thursday's practice. "He's gotten a little bit better since the time that we've been here. 

"It seems like every year he makes some growth and some steps forward. I think he's one of those guys where the more familiar he becomes with a system, the better he plays. I think he's on that kind of track right now. 

"The last eight games of the season, eight to six games, he made a ton of plays for us and showed up a significant number of times. Hopefully we can keep him on the same trajectory."

Taylor should see his fair share of one-on-one matchups with Ansah (14.5 sacks in 2015) on the other side. It's up to him to make the plays.

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