OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — Tyrod Taylor has learned the Baltimore Ravens playbook. He understands what it takes to be part of an NFL team, and has adjusted to being a rookie quarterback in a locker room filled with veteran leaders.
The most important lesson he’s received this year, however, is how to be patient.
Taylor was a star at Virginia Tech before the Ravens selected him in the sixth round of the 2011 draft. He is now the backup to sturdy Joe Flacco, who hasn’t missed a start throughout his entire four-year career.
It’s not quite as bad as playing behind Cal Ripken Jr., but it’s close.
“I’ve been very patient,” Taylor said Wednesday. “At the same time, it’s a learning process. I’m trying to learn as much as I can each and every day, preparing myself so that if and when I have to go in, I’ll be ready. And I’m certain I will be.”
Taylor watched 11 straight games watching from the sideline before getting his first taste of NFL action last Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. He ran for 2 yards out of the wildcat formation on his only play.
“Not knowing when it was going to come, I was real excited,” Taylor said. “I just went in there trying to make a positive play. It was 2 yards, but I think I turned a negative play into a positive. It was fun.”
Because the Ravens are playing the winless Indianapolis Colts this week, the topic of backup quarterbacks has come to the forefront. The Colts (0-12) have stumbled without Peyton Manning, which makes one wonder: How would the Ravens fare if Taylor had to step in for an injured Flacco?
“We’d like to think the guy we have is capable of winning games for us, no doubt about it,” coach John Harbaugh said. “We’re very confident in Tyrod. We think he’s really good. But he’s a rookie and he hasn’t been in that situation before. His style of play is different than Joe’s. But we’re preparing for it.”
Taylor was a difference-maker at Virginia Tech because of his ability to run, but those who know him insist that’s only part of his game. Ravens rookie wide receiver Torrey Smith, who has been friends with Taylor since both were in high school, said, “He’s a playmaker. He’s a quarterback that can run. People tend to think because he’s athletic that’s all he can do. But you watch him in practice and watch him play, you can see he’s a great quarterback and is going to be an even better quarterback.”
Says Taylor: “I can scramble, but I’m not a running quarterback. Look at this league and the way Tim Tebow is playing right now. You want a guy that’s going to win, and that’s what I do — I win. Throughout college I put up good stats, and I also won. The perception people have of me, that doesn’t matter. I go out and win, and that’s what I aim to do here.”
The Ravens (9-3) are pursuing the top seed in the AFC playoffs and could not afford a drop off in production if Flacco got hurt. Taylor, 22, understands that perfectly.
“If something would go wrong, they expect you to go in there and win,” Taylor said. “I welcome that. I don’t shy away from that pressure. I’ve always been a guy that turns pressure into positive energy and goes out there and plays there. Of course it would be all eyes on me, and I’m ready for that.”
The reality of the situation is that Taylor won’t get to see action in more than a play or two unless Flacco gets injured. And since both quarterbacks are so young, it might be that way for years to come.
“Look at the guy who won the Super Bowl last year,” Taylor said. “Aaron Rodgers sat down for three years and just watched. My shot will come, and when it does, I’ll impress people.”
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)