Thursday, May 29, 2014
Devin Taylor covets increased role on line
By Michael Rothstein
ALLEN PARK, Mich. – Devin Taylor sees the chance. There is a wide open hole at defensive end opposite Ezekiel Ansah, and the second-year pro understands what winning the job could mean.
A bigger role, which is something he has craved since he was drafted out of South Carolina last season. It also could signify the beginning of a more versatile placement for Taylor, who has the size and speed to play defensive end and could fit in quite well in new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin’s scheme.
Like many of the defensive linemen Detroit has now, he is starting to figure out how to be multiple, as in play both inside and outside. Having that versatility could end up huge for him as Austin would like to have multiplicity available in his defense.
“I played a little bit (inside) last year,” Taylor said. “Learned some of the different techniques they had for us then.
“Just now I’ll probably get more of a bigger role this year for inside as well.”
Last season, he primarily was a spot reserve, backing up Ansah and Willie Young after Jason Jones was injured against Washington in Week 3. Ansah is still here, but has missed OTAs so far as he recovers from offseason shoulder surgery. Jones is here, but somewhat limited as he returns from the patella tendon tear that cost him last season.
And Young departed in free agency for Chicago, leaving Taylor an opportunity for repetitions and a chance to show he can be more than just the role player he was a season ago.
In that role, Taylor had 14 tackles, 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles in 288 defensive snaps. His numbers in his rookie year were similar to Young’s second season -- the first time he saw any real defensive action. In 2011, Young had 14 tackles and three sacks in 238 defensive snaps.
Though the scheme is new and the coordinator different, the Lions are hoping Taylor can make the leap in his second year that Young did in his fourth year. The scheme could help that, as Young rarely lined up inside last season. Taylor already has some comfort playing in both spots.
He already knows what he has to do in order to make that happen -- and to increase the role he so badly wants.
“Just using my hands a lot more and being able to extend from the blocker,” Taylor said. “Being able to get off blocks and stuff and make more plays.”