Chester Taylor's future uncertain
CHICAGO -- Bears backup running back Chester Taylor cracked an uneasy smile and laughed Thursday, when asked to describe what's been a bizarre week for him.
"It's all right, man. I'm a professional," Taylor said. "I know how to handle it."
Playing in the team's 24-14 win over the Cleveland Browns on Thursday in the exhibition finale, Taylor -- who had run the ball just six times over the first three preseason outings -- finally received an opportunity to showcase his skills, carrying 10 times for 27 yards in limited action during the first quarter.
Taylor expressed satisfaction with finally receiving an opportunity, but even he knows the limited repetitions could hurt him in the team's evaluations as the Bears begin the task of winnowing the current roster to the NFL-mandated 53-man limit by Saturday's deadline.
"I'm just satisfied that I got through the preseason healthy," Taylor said. "That's all that matters right now. I believe I got more opportunity than I did the last preseason games. It seemed like I had more carries, and I did a lot better [with] that. The O-line did a great job. There were times they gave stuff up, but the majority of the time they did a good job."
The chance to focus solely on football seemed a welcome respite Thursday night for Taylor, who started the week on Monday expecting to be released.
An NFL source said Monday that Bears coach Lovie Smith told Taylor he was no longer in the team's plans because of the strong play of free-agent acquisition Marion Barber. Upon hearing the news, Taylor immediately left Halas Hall, but was later contacted by the team to rejoin the Bears for practice that afternoon.
Taylor returned and Bears general manager Jerry Angelo gave the running back the rest of the day off.
Taylor came back to the practice field on Tuesday, and explained the bizarre situation came as a result of "miscommunication."
Smith didn't divulge much after Thursday's game about Taylor's potential role for 2011.
"I don't really quite know," Smith said. "Every player we have, I feel pretty good about on our roster right now. Chester's one of them."
Taylor, meanwhile, indicated he understood what could transpire on Saturday when the team makes its final cutdowns, adding that he'd still like to continue playing if he's a casualty in Chicago. Taylor's main competition for one of the running-back spots -- Kahlil Bell -- suffered what appeared to be a minor ankle injury in the first half. But it's unlikely Bell's ailment would help or hurt Taylor's chances to remain on the roster.
"I don't have a gut feeling," said Taylor when asked about his potential fate. "Whatever happens -- happens. I still love football. I still love playing the game. I believe I can still help a team win."
Perhaps it's just coincidence. But the fact is Taylor, over the past two seasons, has been a contributor for two different teams that advanced to the NFC title game.
Further elaborating on his bizarre week, Taylor took what transpired in stride.
"It ain't too bad," Taylor said. "Of course nobody likes being cut off the team or whatever. But fortunately, I'm still with the Bears."Michael C. Wright covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.
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