Neither injury nor inexperience has prevented Tyrod Taylor from earning the Baltimore Ravens’ trust and respect. He’ll be their No. 2 quarterback in Sunday’s opener against the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers.
A rookie from Hampton High and Virginia Tech, Taylor sustained a bruised left shoulder in Baltimore’s final exhibition game, a week ago Thursday against the Atlanta Falcons. That fueled speculation that the Ravens would sign a veteran free agent to back up Joe Flacco.
Since Taylor was a late draft choice – Baltimore selected him in the sixth round – and is not a prototypical NFL quarterback, names were floated throughout training camp. Sage Rosenfels, Jake Delhomme, J.P. Losman.
But Taylor returned to practice this week, and Ravens coach John Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron – as Indiana’s head coach, Cameron employed a mobile quarterback like Taylor in Antwaan Randle-El – stuck with him.
During his weekly news conference Wednesday, reporters asked Harbaugh whether the team was searching for a quarterback.
“Tyrod is our backup quarterback,” he said. “Look at the roster. We never rule out any moves. You’ve asked me that question before about other guys. We’re always looking for ways to make our team better.
“But I sure like Tyrod as a football player. He had a heck of a preseason. If he goes into a game to play quarterback, that opponent is going to have their hands full.”
As he vowed the night he was dinged in Atlanta, Taylor was back at practice early this week and assured media he’d be ready for Sunday.
“I think the way that I practiced today, it didn't slow me down, and it didn't stop me from doing anything,” he said. “I'm going to continue to go out there and learn each and every day and be the backup. I'll be ready for Sunday.”
Taylor likely secured the No. 2 gig by leading three fourth-quarter scoring drives against the Washington Redskins two weeks ago. He threw a game-winning, 9-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Jones and completed 11 of 18 passes for 125 yards and no interceptions. He ran twice for 31 yards.
Taylor’s first regular-season game day experience will take him inside one of the NFL’s fiercest rivalries. With defenders such as Pittsburgh’s James Harrison and Troy Polamalu, and Baltimore’s Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, these rank among the league’s most bruising teams.
If Taylor is pressed into duty against one of football’s best defenses, at least it will be in front of a friendly crowd. Four years ago, he made his college debut with Virginia Tech trailing at LSU 24-0.