Taylor still likes playing football ‘a hell of a lot’
|08.05.10 at 9:40 pm ET|
FOXBORO — As the sweat poured off his face on Thursday morning, Fred Taylor spoke about his true feelings for football.
The 34-year-old is entering his 13th season in the NFL, and second with the Patriots.
He believes he still has something to offer as a feature running back. And he has 12 seasons of experience to draw upon.
But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t thought about the day that must come for every pro athlete. But that’s when Taylor offered an interesting perspective on Thursday.
“I really like playing football,” Taylor said. “It’s really hard to use that word ‘love’ like some guys do because at some point, I have to divorce the game or it will divorce me, so I really can’t say I love it, but I like it a hell of a lot.
“And the camaraderie with the fellas and just competing, that’s what it’s all about.”
Taylor is coming off a season that was greatly limited by a right ankle injury that required surgery in early October. He never regained his form or had a chance to show what he could still do. But even at 34, coming off ankle surgery, Taylor still feels he can not only win a spot on the roster but he can be a lead back among a group that still includes Laurence Maroney, Sammy Morris, Kevin Faulk, BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Chris Taylor.
“I don’t focus on my age,” Taylor said. “I just go out there, compete and have fun. I definitely like to throw age out of that. I feel pretty good. I’m not going to say young but I feel very good. I’m ready to go, yeah.”
Whether 24, 34 or 44, anytime you make a mistake in practice when everyone is watching, your pride is hurt. Such was the case when Tom Brady looked over the middle on a third-down situation on Thursday morning and found an open Taylor. The veteran did something a lot of younger players do — he attempted to run without first securing the ball, dropping it to the ground for an incompletion.
“I’m pissed too,” Taylor said. “You want to be as close to perfect as you can. I hate dropping a pass but I work on it, I work at it and catching from the JUGS [ball-tossing machine] and doing what I need to do in that area. I always have. You want to be hard on yourself, not to the point where it carries over to the next play or the next practice but you do want to practice consistency in those areas that aren’t necessarily your strong points.”
So what’s the biggest thing for Taylor to prove in this camp?
“Just going through and competing and being as competitive as I can be,” he said. “Still going through my daily routine and nothing really changes, help wherever I can help and just do whatever my coaches ask.”
While he wants to show he can still compete, Taylor knows he has to show that his right ankle is fully healed. He believes he made great strides in that regard starting with his off-season conditioning.
“I’m not sure it’s one of my better but I did get after it,” he said. “In the off-season, you have to develop your foundation. Knowing I was coming back from an ankle,, just rehabbing with that. But it was a very good offseason training.”
With the Patriots very likely to carry three tight ends for many if not all games to improve their red zone offense, Taylor can do the math and realizes there might be one less running back spot on the roster.
“It’s great competition, very healthy,” Taylor said. “We’re all friends. We all still lean on each other. I ask Kevin what do we expect on certain plays, vice versa. When it comes to the running game, whether it’s Sammy, Laurence, BenJarvus or Chris, we all still lean on each other. There’s a friendship there. We all know that we have to give it our all each and every day.”
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