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Taylor Impresses In First Mini-Camp

Posted May 2, 2004

Sean Taylor on his first Redskins mini-camp practice: "I don't expect anything to be handed to me."

From Joe Gibbs to Fred Smoot, first impressions of first-round draft pick Sean Taylor at Friday’s mini-camp practice were all positive.

LaVar Arrington was even so bold as to predict Taylor would be a starter "by the end of the week."

But what did Taylor think of his first NFL practice?

"I went out there, I ran to the ball and I practiced hard," he said. "That’s all I can give. They bring you in expecting you to be able to pick things up fast. It was just a matter of getting used to the plays and seeing them live. The more you do it, the more comfortable you become."

Taylor is expected to compete for a starting safety job with Ifeanyi Ohalate. Last season, the Redskins’ safety tandem was Matt Bowen at free safety and Ohalete at strong safety. If Taylor earns the starting job, it is expected he would play free safety and Bowen or Ohalete would play at strong safety.

Ohalete said Friday that he was looking forward to competing for the starting job.

"It’s a great competition--we all play hard back there," Ohalete said. "Coach said it would be an open competition, so all I can do is play my best and let the best man win."

During Friday’s mini-camp practice, Taylor, the 6-2, 231-pound safety out of the University of Miami (Fla.) and the first defensive player taken in last Saturday’s draft, played mostly on the third team. He worked closely with defensive backs coaches DeWayne Walker and Steve Jackson, all under the watchful eye of Gregg Williams, assistant head coach-defense.

"Everyone has to start somewhere," Taylor said. "I’m not trying to get anything handed to me. I want to work for everything I get."

Fred Smoot doesn’t think that Taylor’s workload will be a problem for the rookie.

"Everything they wrote about him is true," Smoot said. "He’s fast and he’s smart. I think the quicker he can grasp the defensive concepts and learn where he’s supposed to be, he’ll be that great player. So just give him time to learn the defense."

Taylor seemed to be taking the open competition and the expectations of being a high draft pick all in stride. He was loose during a post-practice media session, joking about the extra-large shorts the team gave him to wear.

"It’s very enthusiastic here and everyone is trying to compete," he said. "You see that at Miami, but this is a higher level. There are no slack-offs, there’s no concern that [a teammate] may not get the job done-it’s everyone getting the job done out there."

Said Gibbs: "Players who are picked that high in the draft-there will be some pressure. But most of the guys picked high are used to pressure. And so he is.

"I think from what I’ve seen of Sean, he seems to want to be a good team guy and he’s not focused on himself, he’s focused on the team. That’s what’s great about him. He’s real serious about playing football."



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