|Sacking with the 'Skins: Jason Taylor settles in|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 19 August 2008 13:18|
As for his ``Dancing With the Stars'' fans? Well, he couldn't avoid them if he tried.
``You'd be surprised,'' Taylor said Tuesday. ``Whether it's older ladies or middle-aged women or young girls, the show reached a lot of people. Everywhere I go. I was at the gas station last night, and a lady and her daughter said 'Hello' and 'You were great on ``Dancing with the Stars.``' They don't know I play football half the time, which is fine.''
One month after his arrival at Redskins Park - in the NFL's biggest training camp trade until Brett Favre went to the New York Jets - Taylor admitted he is ``still trying to fit in'' with his new teammates after spending 11 years with the Miami Dolphins.
``I'm not at ease yet,'' Taylor said. ``I feel a little more comfortable, enjoying the guys.''
Taylor ate lunch Tuesday with Clinton Portis and Shawn Springs, exchanging stories about their experiences with different teams. He has been peppering Portis with questions about the area, asking the running back for directions and such.
But one of his most important developing relationships is with fellow defensive end Andre Carter. Taylor (11 sacks last season) and Carter (10.5) should form Washington's most imposing pass-rushing tandem since Marco Coleman and Bruce Smith in 2000 - and comparisons have already been made to the Michael Strahan-Osi Umenyiora combo that helped lead the New York Giants to a Super Bowl title last season.
``I think there's the start of a chemistry, but it takes time to develop that,'' Taylor said. ``The more you can play together, the better that chemistry is. The biggest thing is I think we're similar in a lot of ways. I think we can both bring the pressure off the edges.''
Taylor and Carter have frequently switched sides on the defensive line - sometimes they do it in practice without telling the coaches - so offensive tackles are going to have to study both players. Needless to say, no offense can constantly double-team them both, even with a tight end helping out with a chip block.
``Which guy do you slide to? Which guy do you chip? How are you going to chip only one of them?'' coach Jim Zorn said. ``Really, if you look at Andre, he's got to be excited because he has been chipped most of the year in the past.''
Taylor said he and Carter are already comparing notes as they move back and forth between right end and left end in their limited preseason action.
``We'll come off the field and I'll tell him what's going on my side, he'll tell me what's going on on his side,'' Taylor said. ``This last game, I told Andre he could beat the guy inside. He was telling me what (Jets tackle) D'Brickashaw Ferguson was doing over there. You share that knowledge so throughout the game you'll know what to expect when you get over there.''
As a veteran of six Pro Bowls and a former NFL defensive player of the year, Taylor is expected to provide locker room leadership, but he needs to get a better pulse of the team's psyche before saying too much. After all, he is the only one of the 22 starters who wasn't on the team last season.
``I think people get the idea of being a leader a little messed up,'' Taylor said. ``A leader just doesn't come in and start saying things and breaking chalkboards and throwing bottles around the locker room. It starts with your play. I'm not a big rah-rah guy. That's high school stuff, the pregame talks and 'win one for the Gipper.' I'd rather go out there and play hard and show them the way to do it. There comes a time where you have to stand up and grab someone by the face mask and get things going, and that just comes naturally. I think when you talk too much, you lose credibility. When you do the right thing, your words carry a lot more weight.''
Taylor grab a teammate by the face mask? He seems too nice to do such a thing. Come to think of it, how does someone with such an affable demeanor transform himself into a mean sack machine on Sundays?
``Up until kickoff, I'm a relaxed guy,'' he said. ``When you know what you're doing and you're confident in what you're doing and you prepare yourself, you can be relaxed and kind of kick butt when you have to. We can't walk around the street sacking people in the grocery store and being jerks. You've got to be personable, but on Sundays we can turn it on and get it done.''
Taylor said the trade from the rebuilding Dolphins to a potential playoff team has invigorated him. Before the trade, he was considering retirement after this season, but immediately after the deal he said he plans to fulfill his contract and play two more seasons.
On Tuesday, when asked if he'd be with the Redskins next season, he was a bit more circumspect.
``I have no idea. I hope I'm here tomorrow,'' he said with a smile. ``It's a day at a time in this league. Life is so short, so I'm going to enjoy this media session and go get ready to practice and enjoy that, and hopefully see you tomorrow.''
Notes: T Stephon Heyer took part in team drills Tuesday for the first time since injuring his knee in the opening preseason game. ... WRs Malcolm Kelly (knee) and Anthony Mix (rib) took part in individual drills. ... LB Matt Sinclair was absent due to back spasms. ... S LaRon Landry (hamstring) and T Todd Wade (ankle) remain sidelined.