Taylor set to take Engram's spot with Seahawks Print
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Tuesday, 12 August 2008 16:10
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 KIRKLAND, Wash. (AP) -The last thing Courtney Taylor needs is a reminder that he's young and inexperienced.
He reads or hears it anytime somebody mentions that the Seattle Seahawks' young wide receivers are being called upon to grow up fast this season.
``We understand that we are young. We understand that we don't have the experience. That's all we hear,'' Taylor said on Tuesday. ``That's understandable and it's true, because we haven't done anything in this league yet. I understand that. But that motivates me, gives me more will power to say, 'Hey, I'm ready to do this.'''
The maturation of Taylor and his young teammates was kicked into warp drive earlier this week when coach Mike Holmgren announced that leading receiver Bobby Engram will be out up to eight weeks with a cracked right shoulder.
That leaves Nate Burleson as the Seahawks' only healthy receiver with more than 12 career catches and who understands the offense.
And if Taylor needed any more expectations placed on his 6-foot-1 frame, Holmgren specifically pointed to him as the guy the coaches would like to step forward in Engram's absence.
``You feel bad for Bobby, but it's the nature of the business. Other guys get the opportunity to at least show what they can do, show their potential,'' Taylor said. ``That's the way we looked at it. That's the way Bobby looked at it.
``There's no pressure added; just go out and play football.''
Taylor said this just moments after spending an extra 15 minutes following practice catching passes zipping out of a pitching machine.
With Seattle's receivers thinned by the loss of D.J. Hackett in free agency and the uncertainly of when Deion Branch will return from a serious knee injury, one or two of the Seahawks' youthful receivers were already going to have to become a significant part of the offense.
Engram's injury is another chance for one of the youngsters - Taylor, Ben Obomanu, Logan Payne and Jordan Kent - to make an impression.
``We all realize that it's now a great opportunity for a lot of receivers, and with the situation we're in now it kind of magnifies a little bit more,'' Obomanu said. ``But our approach is to stay calm, try and stay relaxed and not to think about added pressure.''
Obomanu knows Taylor better than others. The two played together at Auburn, before arriving in Seattle a year apart. Obomanu remembers when Taylor arrived on the plains of Alabama and the coaches weren't sure what to do with an athletic high school quarterback who rarely threw the ball, and almost picked basketball over football.
The Tigers decided Taylor's speed was best utilized as a receiver.
``I honestly thought I was going to play defensive back. That's what the coaches told me and what a lot of the guys wanted me to do. But when I got there they were having a lot of receiver problems,'' Taylor said. ``That's all I remember is them saying, 'We're going to give you a shot at wide receiver,' and I was like 'OK.' I was just happy to be there.''
At Auburn, Taylor developed into the Tigers' main receiver, catching a school record 153 passes and becoming only the fourth player in school history to gain more than 2,000 yards receiving. Seattle drafted Taylor in the sixth round, knowing they had a little time to let his relatively short experience level as a receiver grow.
Time's up.
``Courtney's a pretty explosive guy,'' Holmgren said. ``He's got great skill. He's fast. I mean, his athletic ability is special.''
Athleticism aside, it's the mental side of the game that Taylor finds most difficult. To help with that, Taylor has talked to Engram, trying to learn any tips or suggestions the 13-year veteran can pass along.
Now would be the time the Seahawks hope Taylor can put those lessons to use.
``It's a tough situation that happened to Bobby. That's our mentor. He's our ambassador,'' Taylor said. ``He's a guy who we really look up to. But we've still got to go play.''
 

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