Tyrod Taylor was gracious enough to spend nearly 30 minutes of his Tuesday talking about his rookie season with the Baltimore Ravens and his youth football camp Saturday at Hampton’s Darling Stadium.
Wednesday’s print column couldn’t include all his observations, so what follows are the former Hampton High and Virginia Tech quarterback’s own words.
* On his vision of starting a football academy on the Peninsula: “My dad is starting (a business) called Training Ground, which is eventually what we’re going to run the academy through. Football is big around here, and it can be even bigger with spring football. Kids tend to go to basketball in the spring, but if you look at states like Florida, they play all year ‘round. And I think we can compete with those states if we (play) all year ‘round. … We’re going to make it big as possible, but you have to start with small steps.”
* On how he’s spent the offseason: “Kam Chancellor, who plays for the Seattle Seahawks and was my roommate at Virginia Tech, was elected to the Pro Bowl and I got a chance to go out to Hawaii (for the game). … I took another vacation, and since I’ve been back home working out every day. Training, running, lifting, throwing.
“Throwing was the main thing for me. Just don’t want to get rusty. … Less than a week from now we’ll be back in Baltimore training as a team, and I’m looking forward to that.”
* Who he’s been throwing to: “I went up to Virginia Tech, and I’ve been throwing with some guys I played with. Justin Harper was there, Andre Smith, Jarrett Boykin, David Wilson and Danny Coale. … I’ve been throwing with a close friend of mine who’s a senior at Hampton University, Reginald Hicks. He played with me (in high school). … I went to Baltimore for a week and threw with receivers we have there: LaQuan Williams, Tandon Doss, Torrey Smith.”
* Impressions of new Ravens quarterback coach Jim Caldwell, a former head coach with the Indianapolis Colts and at Wake Forest, and a former Penn State assistant: “I’ve had a chance to meet with him, talk with him. He actually knows a lot about this area. He spent a lot of time recruiting here when he was with Wake Forest and Penn State. … He has a lot of knowledge, and talking to people (about him), and talking to him, you can tell he’s a nice guy and loves what he does. I’m just waiting for the opportunity to get up there, work with him and learn as much as I can, absorb (his) knowledge.”
* On the patience required to back up entrenched starter Joe Flacco: “You look across the league, and there’s a lot of guys that had to sit. I believe Aaron Rodgers did it for three years (in Green Bay) playing behind Brett Favre. Look at the opportunity (former Packers backup) Matt Flynn is getting now (with the Seahawks). (Texans starter) Matt Schaub sat behind Mike (Vick) in Atlanta. … Tom Brady had to sit for a little while. … I just have to wait my turn.”
* On the randomness of a backup’s life, like former North Carolina quarterback T.J. Yates going from No. 3 to No. 1 in Houston last season after injuries to Schaub and Matt Leinart: “I remember talking to (him) during the season. He was at Virginia Tech (when) North Carolina played Virginia Tech on a Thursday, and he told me he was in my town. And maybe just a week or two later he was the starter in Houston. Things happen. Opportunities will come.”
* On feeling more prepared as the season progressed: “(Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron) did a good job getting me (practice) reps. I know across the league talking to guys, the No. 2 guy doesn’t get many reps throughout the week, and sometimes in practice me and Joe would split the reps. Meanwhile, I was getting all the reps on the scout team (too).
“He’d put me in certain situations throughout practice -- maybe I had to take the team on a two-minute drill – to keep me on my toes, to get a gauge where I’m at and also for me to go out there and gain confidence, so that when it’s my turn, I can go out there and do it.”
* On his first NFL play, Dec. 4, at Cleveland. Second-and-goal from the 8. Taylor lines up in the shotgun, with Flacco split wide, and gains 2 yards off tackle: “That should be a touchdown. That should be my first touchdown. It was just a miscommunication. We had Anquan (Boldin) running a route when he was supposed to block, and we missed a guy off the edge. It was still a positive play. It could have been a 10-yard loss, but I was able to turn it into a gain. I ride Anquan about that to this day.”
* Did he know he was going to play that day? “We practiced specifically that week on those plays. But the weather was (bad). So I wasn’t sure it was going to happen. You don’t want to try too much trick stuff when the weather is that bad. Coach Cam told me earlier in the game on the sideline, ‘Be ready,’ and I didn’t go in that series.
“But we got the ball back on like the 50-yard-line, and he told me, ‘Be ready.’ I actually had to go grab my other helmet. It was like everything was in slow-motion for that one play. I can only imagine what it would be like when it’s my turn to go out there for a full game.”
* Your other helmet? “Because me and Joe were on the field at the same time, and (the NFL) won’t allow two helmets with the speakers inside on the field at the same time.”
* On his second play, the following week against Indy, when he lined up as a receiver on second-and-goal from the 7 and watched a pass go to tailback Ray Rice for no gain: “I actually could have gotten the ball on that play. I told Joe if it was one-on-one (coverage), I was supposed to get the fade ball. But something happened. I think (the Colts) didn’t check Ray Rice, and (Flacco) ended up throwing to him.”
* On his final appearance, the following week at San Diego, where he was sacked twice and threw his lone pass of the season, an 18-yarder to Boldin, in mop-up duty in the final minute of a lopsided defeat: “That just shows you the type of team we have. It was less than 45 seconds on the clock and he catches a 7-yard pass, and he still fights for yardage instead of just going down to prevent injury.”
* On playing with veteran stars such as Ray Lewis and Ed Reed: “There’s a lot of leadership in that locker room. You can just sit back and learn so much from the conversations. The way they carry themselves, just professional people. … Friends I have on different teams, they don’t have that. There’s a lot of young teams, and it’s a long season, and they can get distracted by so many things, especially when you’re not winning. Just the way they control that locker room and keep that locker room focused on the daily job is just phenomenal.”
* On his relationship with Flacco: “Me and Joe are cool. We have a real good relationship. I think it started when I went up to Towson (University) during the lockout and we had a three-day workout. Just the way he welcomed me. He doesn’t shy away from teaching me. It’s a collective job for us. Things I see I can offer to him. Things he sees he can tell me. … At the end of the day, we want a Super Bowl.”
* On staying in touch with Virginia Tech: “I talk to Logan (Thomas) a lot. David Wilson’s like my little brother. Talk to Dyrell Roberts a lot, Marcus Davis. … I’m going up there for the spring game.”
* On Wilson’s NFL prospects: “Definitely going to be special. Some people compare him to Ray Rice. But I don’t know who you can actually compare him to in the league. He has a different style. He’s a power back, but at the same time he’s a speed guy. I told him in the NFL, though, don’t try to run those people over like you did in college. You want to save your body.”
* On playing for a Baltimore organization so accustomed to winning: “We have a smart GM (Ozzie Newsome), one of the best owners out there (Steve Bisciotti) as far as selecting guys, a great head coach (John Harbaugh), a phenomenal head coach and competitor, and I think they choose talent wisely. They know what they’re doing and they have a plan.”
* On being recognized in public: “Some people know me. I don’t really go out too much. Game day, it’s funny, you have to walk through the fans and sign autographs, and being that I played college football so close to there, a lot of people recognize me. I might go out to the mall and get recognized here and there. That doesn’t bother me. I’m still going to be me.”
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