Taylor is fitting in
MANKATO - A four-year, $14.1 million payday doesn't usually come with a clause requiring patience, especially when $5.6 million of it is guaranteed. Running back Chester Taylor seems to be very aware of this as he makes the adjustment to a new offensive system after four seasons with the Baltimore Ravens.
"Baltimore had nothing like this," said Taylor, who was a backup to Jamal Lewis. "It was totally different. But I'm getting really comfortable with it as far as doing more as a running back. ... Every day I try to get out here and learn more and more."
The West Coast offense requires running backs to be skilled in multiple facets of the game. Picking up blitzing linebackers is crucial and being able to catch the ball out of the backfield is a must.
Taylor showed his receiving ability with Baltimore last season by hauling in a career-high 41 passes, placing him fourth among AFC running backs in receiving. But Taylor said this system takes things to a new level when it comes to the passing game.
"I believe receiving [is the biggest difference] because every offense you go block," he said. "There isn't anything different with that. I believe it's doing more motion out of the backfield and getting the running back involved with the receiving aspect of the game."
Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said the ideal mix for Taylor in a game would be to get him more than 20 carries and four or five passes.
"If we're getting him 20 carries, that means we're doing a great job with the run game," Bevell said.
Taylor wasn't able to play much last weekend after suffering a minor groin strain in a joint practice Friday with the Kansas City Chiefs.
He sat out Saturday and was very limited in what he could do Sunday. Taylor's workload increased Monday.
"I'm feeling a lot better," he said. "I went out there [Monday], did a little something. Just taking it easy and getting better every day."
Taylor's misfortune gave backups Mewelde Moore and Ciatrick Fason an opportunity to get longer looks. Fason, a fourth-round pick in 2005, quickly caught Bevell's attention.
"I am surprised with Ciatrick a little bit," he said. "He's done a nice job. He's a tough kid. He's a fighter. The other day he showed a little bit more shake than I thought he had."
Bevell was referring to a move Fason put on Fred Smoot on Saturday that left the cornerback reaching for air.
"Most people have called me a power back but from the Kansas City [practice] and the day when I got Smoot, everybody can see now that I'm really not just a power runner," said Fason, who was used in short-yardage situations last season. "I do whatever it takes to get yards."
Fason might be third on the depth chart but he said Childress has told the running backs that there is no "clear-cut starter" at this point. That's a bit hard to believe considering the Vikings' investment in Taylor, but it certainly would be good news for No. 2 running back Mewelde Moore.
Moore, who started half of the games he played last season and led the Vikings with 662 rushing yards, likes Childress' offense.
"It's nothing different than what I'm always accustomed to," said Moore, whose 37 receptions in 2005 was tops among Vikings running backs. "Being able to use all my tools. That's what I've been doing my entire life. It's nothing new to me."
If Taylor figures to get the majority of the work, however, Moore said he isn't worrying about it.
"As far as all those things, man, coaches make decisions," he said. "We just go out there and play ball. I've been preparing all year with the new offense and just learning how to best put myself in a situation where I could help this team win."
Judd Zulgad, Star Tribune
Re: Taylor is fitting in
good post, glad to see taylor's injury was nothing serious. it would really suck if he went down for any longer period of time. i'm glad to see taylor aparantly is fitting in now, he came before out of shape, hopefully he's got that under control and is ready to start for us next year
Re: Taylor is fitting in
I can't to see him out on the field.. That game against the Redskins is going to be a real test; nothing like a baptism of fire to see what you're made of.