|Catching Jim Brown||05.20.09 at 2:27 pm ET|
FOXBOROUGH – As someone who began his head coaching career in Cleveland, Bill Belichick has always had a keen appreciation for Jim Brown.
Now he’s got a running back who’s trying to catch him.
Fred Taylor, a veteran of 11 NFL seasons, took part in an organized team activity — otherwise known as an OTA — on Wednesday outside Gillette Stadium.
The running back showed up because he want to show Belichick and the team that he is dead serious about learning the playbook inside and out and earning a spot on the roster.
“I’ve always said I wanted to catch Jim Brown, whether I do or don’t. It’s been great playing the NFL this long,” Taylor said. “You look at the average (career) lifespan of a player, the things I’ve gone through in my career, the injuries, this and that. Whatever I end with, I’ll take it.”
Right now, Taylor stands at 11,271 yards, just over a thousand away from Brown’s 12,312. Taylor has rushed for over 1,200 yards in seven of his 11 seasons, all in Jacksonville. One more such season and he would get his goal. He is coming off a season where a wrist injury limited him to 143 carries and just 556 yards. Brown retired as the NFL’s all-time leading rusher. He is now 8th on that list.
Brown retired after nine seasons. Taylor is entering his 12th. Brown played in three NFL title games, winning once. Taylor has never reached the Super Bowl.
“I continue to play,” Taylor said. “I love to win, very competitive. I play this game to try and win championships. You’ve just got to push forward. But first and foremost, I just have to learn the dangone plays and I’ll be alright.
So why does a 33-year-old veteran show up at a camp usually reserved for draft picks, rookie free agents and second-year players?
“I’ve been around the block a little bit. It’s a little tough. You’ve got to come in here and keep studying. That’s my job. That’s what I came here for. Pick it up,” Taylor said. “That’s the most important thing for me right now, most important. I just came here to do a job. That’s what brought me here. I’ve been working in this business for 11 years so I want to learn the playbook so I don’t have to hesitate. I don’t want to feel like a rookie out there. So I listen. I’ve always been coachable. Whatever I have to do I do it but it starts with learning the plays first.”
Taylor realizes at his age, it’s all about keeping himself in shape to compete and making sure you have tread left on the tires.
“I can’t put a number on it but I’ve always said I’ll run till the wheels fall off,” Taylor said. “You drive your car and you get your rotations. But if those wheels fall off, you’re in trouble. But I’m going to keep pushing forward.
It wasn’t his wheels that was the focus of concern recently but rather the steering wheel as he suffered a left wrist injury during an off-season workout. It required an MRI but Taylor said that it’s healed and not an issue at all.
“It’s never been an issue,” Taylor said. “It was a minor slip-up at workout. It just got a little blown out of proportion. I’m fine.”
Taylor works out close to his home in Florida. It’s there where he said he recently realized what it meant to wear the red, white, silver and blue.
“Everyday I work out in South Florida, I have on some type of Patriots gear, and the guys down there they tease me all the time,” Taylor said. “They tell me it seems like I’ve been a part of that team forever the way I wear the colors. It’s nice colors. I’ve always admired them, especially when they changed to (new logo).”
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