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Article on Ben Taylor

Discussion in 'Packer Fan Forum' started by thetombradyhater, Jun 25, 2006.

  1. thetombradyhater

    thetombradyhater Cheesehead

    May 5, 2006

    Taylor made chance

    Versatile linebacker fitting right in


    Posted: June 23, 2006

    Green Bay - Nick Barnett's the man at middle linebacker. A.J. Hawk's the big-time rookie on the weak side.

    The strong side? That has been manned through much of the off-season by Ben Taylor, a player who, if the situation warrants, can also step in for Barnett or feel completely at home at Hawk's spot.

    It's that versatility, among other things, that convinced the Green Bay Packers to pursue the five-year veteran in March as they attempted to make over their linebacker corps.

    Taylor, meanwhile, was convinced enough of the chance to play in a scheme more suited to his talents that he left the Cleveland Browns, a team for which he started all 16 games a season ago.

    Now the 6-foot-2, 238-pounder is eyeing a starting spot on the strong side with the Packers, who started four different players at the position last year.

    "I think my strength has kind of put me where I'm at because I'm versatile and I can play any position," Taylor said. "When guys have been missing I've filled in for them at the other spots. I'm just trying right now to be a better football player and learn the system, doing a little bit of everything right now."

    Taylor, 27, was a fourth-round draft choice by the Browns in 2002 out of Virginia Tech, where he was a three-year starter.

    Injuries dogged him for much of his first three years in Cleveland. He missed nine games his rookie season with a hamstring injury, three games in 2003 with back and elbow injuries and 13 games in 2004 with a torn chest muscle.

    Finally healthy in 2005, Taylor responded with a 139-tackle season while starting every game for the Browns and playing 72% of the snaps. He was also a significant contributor on special teams.

    Taylor played weak-outside linebacker in the Browns' 3-4 scheme. On the strong side in the Packers' 4-3, he'll be lining up opposite the tight end and taking on blockers in an attempt to free Barnett to make tackles in the middle.

    "I don't think it's very tough," Packers defensive coordinator Bob Sanders said, referring to Taylor's transition. "He's a professional. He's been involved in a lot of different schemes throughout his football playing days. It hasn't been and it won't be any more of an adjustment than having a new staff."

    Taylor, who said he thought Green Bay's scheme and coaching staff were a better fit for him as compared to Cleveland's, managed just one turnover play - an interception - during his stay in Cleveland. He also didn't record a sack.

    Part of the reason for that, Taylor said, was his role in the 3-4 alignment.

    "Playing in a 3-4 where I'm inside, I had a guard over the top of me open all the time ready to come up on you," he said. "Whereas in a 4-3, those linemen are taking up those offensive guards and tackles. It's nice to have that."

    A lack of playmaking ability dogged Green Bay's linebackers a season ago.

    Barnett, Na'il Diggs, Robert Thomas, Paris Lenon, Roy Manning and Brady Poppinga combined for just two interceptions, four fumble recoveries, two forced fumbles and 2½ sacks as the Packers stumbled their way to a 4-12 record.

    Barnett was responsible for many of those plays, including a 95-yard interception return for a touchdown. Hawk was around the football plenty at Ohio State, averaging 123 tackles, 12½ tackles for loss and five sacks per season.

    Taylor will be asked to be part of the improvement in that area as well. His primary competition at this point is Manning, a second-year player out of Michigan who started two games on the strong side last season.

    But Taylor already has received looks on the weak side as well, making him one of the most versatile performers the Packers have on their linebacking unit.

    "He's seen a lot of things, he's smart, he can play a couple different positions," Sanders said. "We try to put as much on all those guys as they can handle because it makes everyone more marketable and it allows you to keep your best players in the game all the time if something were to happen."

    Taylor could also be a contributor on special teams, another unit that could use a boost. Roster instability and inadequate personnel resulted in poor return and coverage units and precious few turnover plays.

    And the way Taylor looks at it, special teams are just another way to get onto the field.

    "I'm just a football player. I may not be 6-4, 6-5, 250, but I play football the way it's meant to be played and I'm smart," he said. "That's kind of what my deal is. Hopefully you'll see me out there making plays on Sunday."

    With Zero posting all of these articles lately I figured why not join the fun.
  2. tromadz

    tromadz Cheesehead

    Aug 15, 2005
    yeah, he's hot

    I mean *He is gonna be good.

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