While the 2011 season did not play out the way the Browns would have hoped, they could not have asked for much more from a health perspective on defense. Seven defenders started all 16 games, including rookie DT Phil Taylor, who showed significant promise in the middle. But Taylor’s second NFL season could be shortened, if not ended all together, after he suffered a torn pectoral this week.
“He is going to miss some significant amount of time, more months than weeks,” Browns head coach Pat Shurmur said Friday.
The Browns will turn to rookies John Hughes and Billy Winn, as well as veterans Scott Paxson, Brian Sanford and Kiante Tripp, as options to replace Taylor. The selections of Hughes (Round Three) and Winn (Round Six) not long before Taylor sustained his injury somewhat soften the blow, but Taylor will not be easy to replace. The 6-3, 335-pound Baylor product recorded 59 tackles and four sacks in 2011, and the Taylor-Ahtyba Rubin tandem looked to be one of the NFL's better interior-line duos entering this season.
Shurmur indicated Friday that there was no clear-cut favorite to replace Taylor.
“We’re going to play the best guy whether he is a guy on our roster or one of the new guys. We’ll fill that spot, until Phil comes back, with the best guy,” Shurmur said.
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