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Green Bay Packers running backs coach Ben Sirmans wants three things from Patrick Taylor entering his third season: More physicality, more urgency and more authority as a runner.
Sirmans said he saw flashes of all three when Taylor rushed for 53 yards, caught two passes and scored his first career NFL touchdown during the second half of the Packers’ Week 18 loss to the Lions in Detroit in January.
“He was running with more authority, and that’s something we talked about in previous games,” Sirmans said in May. “I think you saw glimpses of that (in Detroit).”
Taylor will enter training camp competing to be the No. 3 running back behind Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon. Kylin Hill, last year’s seventh-round pick, is still recovering from a torn ACL and may start camp on the PUP list.
If Hill isn’t ready, the job is Taylor’s to lose.
Sirmans believes Taylor’s strong end to the 2021 season will provide some momentum entering training camp, which kicks off in late July.
“That’s the biggest thing I saw that he does have the ability to play more physical, play with more urgency and play with more authority, and I think he’s going to piggyback on that going into this season,” Sirmans said.
Taylor is 6-2 and almost 220 pounds, giving him the size of a physically imposing runner. In games against the Lions and Minnesota Vikings to end last season, Taylor created six missed tackles and averaged over 3.5 yards after first contact, per Pro Football Focus. His 17 carries created only 71 total yards, but 61 of the yards came after contact, and he created two runs over 10 yards.
On one play against the Lions, Taylor put his foot in the ground and lowered his shoulder near the sideline at the end of the run. Sirmans said the ensuing collision created an eruption on the Packers sideline. It’s that type of physicality, urgency and authority that the Packers want more of in 2022.
Getting healthy should also help.
Taylor signed with the Packers as an undrafted free agent out of Memphis in 2020. He missed his entire rookie season while recovering from a foot injury, but he’s now entering his second full season being healthy in Green Bay.
“He looks like he’s moving around a lot better during OTAs and in Phase 2,” Sirmans said. “For him, just getting his feet wet last year, coming off the injuries from the first year, so I think he’s got a better feel for what’s going on, and that’s going to help him.”