On a personal level, Davion Taylor was sad to hear the news that his teammate Eric Wilson was released this week.
But Taylor knows what it means for him.
In recent weeks, the 23-year-old linebacker has become a starter for the Eagles in his second NFL season and has seen his playing time increase. It was that development which made Wilson expendable.
“I always had confidence in myself,” Taylor said. “Just knowing that the coaches and the staff, everybody has confidence in me, it just gives me more confidence and it allows me to play even better on the field. It allows me to keep getting better and to just learn from the coaches and just be the best player I can be.”
While Taylor has put in a ton of extra work in the meeting and film rooms, there’s nothing better for his development than live game reps. Now that he’s getting them, he feels like he’s improving greatly.
He’s far from a finished product but the Eagles were wise to give him a chance. With Wilson, they were getting poor play. If they get poor play from Taylor, at least he has a chance to use it as an opportunity to get better and perhaps grow into a good player.
“I can only learn so much on the practice field or in the facility,” Taylor said. “When you get game reps and you are actually hitting people violently and everything you don’t do at practice, I think that has helped me grow each week.”
Taylor is in his second NFL season but he’s admittedly behind most players his age. His story is well-known now, but Taylor didn’t play high school football because of his family’s religious beliefs. Despite that, he still had a good career at Colorado and was drafted by the Eagles in the third round last year.
When the Eagles drafted him, though, they admitted he was raw. He admitted he was raw. Everyone knew he was raw.
But Taylor’s athleticism was tough to overlook. And as far as projects go, he’s a pretty intriguing one.
“I don’t think it’s frustrating. I’m excited about it,” Taylor said. “I was real raw last year. This year, I’m still learning each week and I think I’m excited because I see how good I can become. I’m still learning. There’s still some things I still haven’t learned, still some things I’m going to learn this week, next week.
“The more I learn, the better I become. I never saw it as a bad thing that I was raw. I always saw it as an opportunity to get better and to see how good I can become in this league.”
One of the things the Eagles wanted to learn about Taylor in the pre-draft process was about his commitment to getting better. They needed to know that he would be willing to put in the extra work. They deemed he was willing and they were right.
This offseason, he began daily meetings with linebackers coach Nick Rallis and those meetings have continued into the season. The two meet every morning to go over things. Those meetings along with a better understanding of how to watch and digest film have helped.
But nothing has helped more than playing in games.
Taylor has started the last three games for the Eagles and has seen his percentage of defensive snaps increase week over week.
Because he’s so young and inexperienced, it’s not going to be perfect. A couple weeks ago, he allowed Raiders fullback Alex Ingold to bust open for a 29-yard catch. On that play, Taylor said his eyes were in the wrong place and he was too concerned with the running back, letting the fullback run free down the field. Oops.
The thing to keep in mind, though, is that there are going to be ups and downs because of Taylor’s inexperience. Taylor felt like his mistake against the Raiders stuck with him too long.
The key for him will be to learn from his blunders and not let them bother him too much.
“Just teach myself all over again, it’s all on to the next play,” Taylor said. “You cannot do anything about the past. If you mess up, you cannot do anything about it. Now, it’s all just about making up for it and just continuing to execute the rest of the plays that come your way.
“That’s what I’m trying to train my mind on: Just don’t get stuck on one play, one missed assignment, one missed tackle. And just continue to grow from that.”
Patience will be key here. Not just for the Eagles but for Taylor too.
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