BEREA—One of the bright spots coming out of the Eagles loss was the play of rookie Phil Taylor.
The No. 1 draft choice broke through and knocked Michael Vick to the ground on the game’s third play, causing a fumble which Jayme Mitchell recovered.
“I’m just getting better every week in practice,” Taylor said. “Every play I’m working to prove, I’m doing extra conditioning and learning to run after the play.”
Pat Shurmur said Taylor has gotten better every game.
“There were some flashes of what you expect from a defensive tackle in this league,” he said. “He’s really making steady progress.
“He had a sack,” Shurmur said. “He forced a fumble. I think he’s making steady improvement getting to the level of play that we expect from him. He played better and I’m comparing his play in games and in each game he has played better.”
A defensive lineman’s play doesn’t always show up in the statistics as many times the tackles are double-teamed. Taylor’s only tackle against Philadelphia was the sack and forced fumble.
“If I’m double-teamed, the linebackers get the tackles,” he said. “For me, it’s just doing my job.”
Taylor said the use of his hands in getting past the offensive lineman has been important at this level.
“I’ve been using my hands my whole career,” he said. “You have to use your hands more at this level.”
Shurmur likes the way Taylor and Ahtyba Rubin are playing in tandem.
“They are working very well together,” he said. “For a young guy, Rubin is a nice guy for Phil to pair up with.”
Taylor is happy with his progress and plans to just get better.
“I think I did a good job against (Vick),” he said. “I know that I needed to work on my pass rushing and week in and out it is getting better. I think (against the Eagles) I did a better job.”
So Far, So Good: It appears that RB Montario Hardesty came through the first game with no setbacks. Hardest carried the ball five times for 15 yards and had one run for five yards.
“It felt really good to be on the field and take some hits,” he said. “It felt great to be the first time out there and make some plays.
“I did not play a lot in the game, but I felt good while I was in there,” he said. “I just want to continue to improve and feel good and hopefully, get more action in the next game.”
Injuries Mounting: WR Mohamed Massaquoi (foot), WR Carlton Mitchell (finger), DB T.J. Ward (hamstring), DB Usama Young (hamstring), LB Marcus Benard (shoulder), WR Jordan Norwood (knee), DB Dimitri Patterson (ankle). LB Archie Donald (stinger), LB Titus Brown (ankle), LB Chris Gocong (neck), WR Josh Cribbs (hamstring), LB Steve Octavien (leg), OL Eric Steinbach (back) and RB Brandon Jackson (toe) all didn’t practice.
Shurmur said he expects Massaquoi to practice this week, but doesn’t know if he’ll play in the final preseason game.
“(The trainers) tell me that he should practice this week,” Shurmur said.
Shurmur said that Brown suffered what appears to be a high ankle sprain and he will most likely be out for a while.
Jackson is in a cast and Shurmur didn’t sound optimistic about him returning very soon.
“It’s hard to say,” he said. “He’s in a cast. He’ll be out a while. The toe isn’t broken, but it will take some time.”
The injury was earlier termed a ‘turf toe.’
Shurmur is hoping Young will be able to practice soon.
“He’s improving,” he said. “He’s getting better and soon he’ll be out here.”
Shurmur said that Steinbach is getting treatments for his back, but there is no timetable for his return. With Steinbach out, rookie Jason Pinkston has been getting the nod at left guard.
“He has made huge, huge strides in three weeks,” Shurmur said. “He’s at a very challenging position and he’s making huge progress.”
Shurmur was asked if it’s frustrating to be dealing with so many injuries.
“I talk to the other coaches and we’re all dealing with the same types of issues,” he said.