The Redskins signed defensive lineman Phil Taylor Sr. back to the team after a quad injury last year tore his season away. He's hoping 2018 is finally the year he gets back to the field in a meaningful way.
Phil Taylor Sr. is used to comebacks by now.
There are the more conventional – if not uniquely grueling – ones, which come after serious injury and intensive recovery and rehab. And then there are the more trivial ones, like his most recent return to the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park.
With his Ashburn apartment's lease expiring and a free agency period keeping him from using the team's workout facility, Taylor began driving home to Cleveland in mid-March. It wasn't until he was on the road, leaving his parents' house in Prince George's County, that he got a phone call from his agent. The Redskins had agreed to re-sign him to a one-year contract, he learned, a fact that eased trepidation about the future that tends to simmer on a long car ride.
"Things work out in weird ways," Taylor said Monday, returning to Ashburn to begin another attempt to play in a regular season game for the first time in four years.
"It was a little bit later than I expected, but at the same time they had some things to think about. I had a major injury. But I just feel blessed that they saw something in me to bring me back. It's just awesome, just glad to be back."
Taylor's story is well told by now – his multiple knee injuries in Denver and Cleveland kept him from playing the last couple of years – and his season-ending quad injury last year, in the team's third preseason game, was the most painful. After convincing the Redskins to take a chance on him, and playing extremely well in training camp, an MRI a couple days after the team's matchup with the Bengals delivered the bad news.
"Mentally this was probably the toughest one, just because I was so close to getting back out there and to have an injury like this," Taylor said. "The first few weeks after, I was in a pretty dark spot. Luckily, I had my wife and my family and my support team around me. It was tough, just being depressed, 'Why is this always happening to me?' But at the same time, I came back from not playing in two or three years, I can do it again. I like a challenge, so it's cool."
It was a strange realization for Taylor, using the productivity in his preseason play from August – from one training camp where he emerged as a likely starter – to fuel optimism for another shot in the league.
"Just knowing I'm capable of coming back, it just made it that much easier this time," Taylor said. "I've actually worked out harder and rehabbed harder this time than any other time."
Around January is when Taylor said he began ramping up the rehab process for his quad, which tore off the bone and has taken its time healing. The biggest focus for him is strengthening the muscle, but that hasn't stopped him from running and doing defensive line drills.
Understandably, Taylor is concerning himself only with the day-to-day and trying not to look ahead, staying cautious as he prepares to begin Phase 1 workouts when the majority of his teammates return to the facility.
He'll be crashing with fellow defensive lineman Ondre Pipkins for the time being, playing video games in his downtime and continuing to build bonds with the other young members of the line that he hopes can come to fruition in the fall.
"We've got a great group of guys, and I'm glad all of us are still here," Taylor said. "Me and Ziggy [Hood], we are probably the two oldest of the room, so we're the veteran guys, and once they heard that I was coming back, a lot of the younger guys were appreciative of that. And I was appreciative of the younger guys. They keep me going, it's awesome."