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  1. #1
    Prophet Guest

    Old team a new test for Taylor

    Old team a new test for Taylor
    Running back faces Ravens' strong defense
    Pioneer Press

    Halfway through the preseason, Vikings fans still are waiting for Chester Taylor and the team's vaunted running game to start living up to the hype. Friday night's game against his former club could be a tough place to start.

    Ray Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens' defense might not be what they were six years ago when they won Super Bowl XXXV, but they still had the NFL's fifth-ranked defense last season and have ranked in the top six for all but one of the past seven seasons.

    That could make this the most formidable challenge yet for the Vikings' offense and Taylor, who spent four seasons in Baltimore before signing with Minnesota in March as an unrestricted free agent. But Taylor said facing his old club wouldn't be anything special.

    "The only difference is I know more people on that team," he said. "I have more friends on that team than any other, but I'm still going to treat it as just another game. I take every game the same, preseason or not. I'm going to go out there and play my hardest."

    With Ravens running back Jamal Lewis sitting out the final two exhibition games because of a strained hip flexor, Taylor won't have the opportunity to go head to head against the man he used to back up.

    If Baltimore had signed him instead of Lewis this offseason, Taylor might be starting against the Vikings this week.

    "Of course, they aren't going to take it easy on me," he said. "I'm on a different side of the ball now, so I'm looking forward to them coming out with their best. The Ravens have a great defense. I've been around them for four years, so I know they're a great defense. I'm just looking forward to the challenge."

    Taylor said there are a couple of things he wants to accomplish.

    "Go out there and make sure the offense gets a rhythm running the ball and passing the ball," he said. "Just go out there, get some drives going and put some points on the board."

    The Vikings' first-team offense did that in Saturday night's 17-10 victory at Pittsburgh. But it wasn't a big night for Taylor, who carried 10 times for 36 yards with a long of 17.

    Through two games, he has rushed for a team-high 54 yards on 19 carries (2.8-yard average) and has caught three passes for 15 yards.

    Those are modest numbers for someone who was signed to a four-year, $14.1 million contract during the offseason to be the team's feature back. But quarterback Brad Johnson said there should be an asterisk attached.

    "The two teams we've played have stacked the box," he said. "Oakland had eight guys in the box the whole game; then the other night, the Steelers were blitzing like crazy and they had eight men in the box, too. I think he's made some crucial runs. He's made some yards after first contact and kept some drives alive for us in addition to catching the ball well out of the backfield."

    Coach Brad Childress indicated Taylor and the running game are making progress, even if it might seem like baby steps.

    "I think it got a little bit better in the second game," Childress said. "I wouldn't say it was great in the first game. It's all about attempts. You want to be efficient in the attempts. Chester's taking a little better look at things every time in terms of where we're asking him to go, where his eyes are running. He's doing good things both circling the defense and then being able to stick his foot in the ground and cut it back."

    Taylor never had more than 160 carries or 714 rushing yards in any season with the Ravens, who re-signed Lewis to a three-year, $26 million contract primarily because he was the more proven commodity.

    Taylor did make the most of his playing time, averaging 4.3 yards a carry and 97.8 yards in the four games when he had 20-plus carries.

    The Vikings haven't had a 1,000-yard rusher since Michael Bennett put up 1,296 in 2002, but they remain convinced that Taylor is the kind of every-down back who can end that streak.

    "He definitely can do it," fullback Tony Richardson said. "His thing is just getting the opportunities. Obviously, right now in preseason he's getting a limited amount of reps as all of us are, but I think Chester did some great things last week. He's a guy who can handle 16 games and about 20 carries a game."

    Don Seeholzer can be reached at [email protected]

  2. #2
    NordicNed is offline Jersey Retired
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    Dec 1969

    Re: Old team a new test for Taylor

    I think CT,s running game will come along as well as the O line's run blocking comes along. This is what pre-season is all about, getting the actual playing time and reps......

    This is when players start to jell and get it all together.....

    I'm going to predict, during the early
    regular season games, we will see our O line's run blocking become a force and C.T. getting those 3.8 to 4.2 rushing avg., games......With 16 to 22 carries a game being the avg., for C.T.

    We will all be pleased in the long run for sure, I know that for a fact.....


  3. #3
    NodakPaul's Avatar
    NodakPaul is offline Jersey Retired
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    Re: Old team a new test for Taylor

    Brad Johnson was right, they were stacking the box.
    Unfortunately, we aren't giving them any reason not too.
    Our recievers aren't getting open deep, and we are calling almost all short to mid range pass plays.

    Hopefully this will change once the regular season hits, and we can stretch the field a little more.
    I know the WCO doesn't focus on the deep play, but we need to at least keep the defenses honest.
    Zeus wrote:
    When are you going to realize that picking out the 20 bad throws this year and ignoring the 300 good ones does not make your point?


  4. #4
    Slade is offline Star Spokesman
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    Re: Old team a new test for Taylor

    Yeah, the O-Line still needs some more time together. They look dang good on paper, but they need to gel. Once this happens, look out! Taylor could bust a 1K year for us

  5. #5
    Ltrey33 is offline Jersey Retired
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    Re: Old team a new test for Taylor

    The running game will be fine. I don't think we've really shown very much imagination in the run game this preseason, and I think we will once the season starts. I don't think I've seen Birk pull once all year so far, and that's something he's very good at. I've seen mostly plays straight into the line following Richardson.

  6. #6
    Slade is offline Star Spokesman
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    Re: Old team a new test for Taylor

    I think right now, the offense is just trying to get the timing down of the plays. The WCO style offense relies heavily on timing & precise blocking & route running. Once this gets accomplished, then we will start to open things up a bit

  7. #7
    Vikes_King's Avatar
    Vikes_King is offline Jersey Retired
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    Re: Old team a new test for Taylor

    im more worried about troy than i am about CT.

    if asking if chester taylor will live up to his hype is the biggest problem we have right now, i can sleep easily

    "We’ll win our own Super Bowl, with our own players. Real Vikings. Something Brett Favre can never be."

    - Dan Calabrese

  8. #8
    ThorSPL's Avatar
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    Omaha, NE

    Re: Old team a new test for Taylor

    I agree King - I really see TW being the make - or - break it person on our team for the year.
    We are short at WR right now...we have TONS of guys who can be the #2 and #3 guy, but we need somebody to step up and take the reins so that others can fill their sports...
    I don't see Taylor doing that, although I'd be happy to be wrong about that.
    If TW can emerge, I think things will find a way of working out for us.....

    Trust me, I'm a doctor.

  9. #9
    PurpleTide's Avatar
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    Re: Old team a new test for Taylor

    The running game and the o-line will come together. It takes longer for the rhymn to develope in the running game. CT and our O-line will play better and better every week. And when they stack the box in the regular season TW is gonna run past somebody and Brad will deliver. Skol

  10. #10
    VikesfaninWis's Avatar
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    Re: Old team a new test for Taylor

    Taylor will be just fine.. That is what the preseason is all about.. Fine tuning everything to make sure your team is ready for the regular season..

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