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Phil Taylor Sr. Trying To Complete Long Road Back To NFL


Phil Taylor Sr. hasn't played in an NFL game since 2014, but he's been among the best in the battle to make the roster on the Redskins defensive line.

It's been more than two and a half years since Phil Taylor Sr. last played in a regular season NFL game. There have been 96 regular season games since Taylor was drafted in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns. Taylor has played in 44 of them. 

Watching Taylor in Richmond, Va., at training camp, he certainly hasn't looked like a player that has had much of his NFL career stripped from him due to injuries. The smile is still there. He's still grinding. He's got his eye on making the Redskins 53-man roster.

"I mean, it's going to be a grind," Taylor said Wednesday. "That's the nature of this beast called NFL. You know, you're going to get hurt, so it's just how you react to it, how you prepare yourself to get better each day after being injured."

Taylor, who was born in Washington, D.C., went to high school at Gwynn Park in Maryland before starring at Baylor. The Browns made him the 21st-overall pick and Cleveland's pick looked like the right one.

The massive defensive lineman recorded 59 tackles, including four sacks, on a Cleveland defense that ranked fifth in scoring defense in 2011. Taylor was named to the All-Rookie team.

The trouble for Taylor started in a weight room in May of 2012 as he prepared for the Browns' minicamp. While doing bench presses, Taylor tore his left pectoral muscle and missed half the season. He made it back in November, but registered just 14 tackles in eight games.

He played in 15 games in 2013, but finished with only 26 tackles and two sacks. In 2014, he played in only five games before a knee injury ended his season. Those same knee issues prevented him from playing in 2015, but he worked back into shape before being signed by the Denver Broncos prior to the 2016 season. 

His days with the Broncos were limited, though, as he sustained another knee injury early in training camp and was cut two weeks later.

"You've got to live and you've got to learn and work from it," Taylor told Larry Michael on "Redskins Nation" earlier this year.

The long-injury plagued road has led him to the Redskins – the team he cheered for his entire life.

"It's awesome, me growing up a Redskins fan being from the area you know I've known," Taylor said. "You know the thing that triggered me growing up was the old school guys that used to wear the pig noses in the games and stuff like that. I mean it was cool to me. I loved it. I just stuck with it since then."

Taylor has enjoyed the competition so far among the defensive linemen, the position gorup that arguably has the best training camp battle. Fellow free agent signees Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee have both had impressive moments along with Taylor. First-round pick Jonathan Allen surely has a roster spot, but holdovers Ziggy Hood, Matt Ioannidis and Anthony Lanier all have a good shot to make the roster as well. And that's before mentioning Joey Mbu and A.J. Francis, both of whom have received praise from the coaching staff.

There's been little certainty about who will make Washington's 53-man roster on the D-line, but opportunities have been awarded to everyone. According to Taylor, that hasn't changed how well the group has worked together.

"We have a good group here and we all gel and there's no one's, two's and all that, we just going out there fighting for our brothers," Taylor said. "You don't need a lot of guys thinking 'Oh I'm here, I'm there,' and you know, just go out there and do what you got to do and you know when the next guy comes in, you don't skip a beat. That's how you keep those great defensive lines in the league. They have guys when the next person comes in, they don't skip a beat. We're a unit. We're not a one, two, three; we're a unit."

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