It’s taken him a long time to get here, but Davion Taylor is finally a big part of the Eagles’ defense.
Taylor has had a rough go of it lately. He suffered a calf injury on Aug. 3 – just a few days into training camp – and struggled for weeks to get back on the field. He missed the opener, played nine snaps in Week 2 against the Cowboys, aggravated the injury, missed Week 3 vs. the 49ers, and then played nine more snaps against the Chiefs.
It was really a two-year ordeal for the second-year linebacker.
“It was very difficult, but I couldn’t let it get me down, so the main thing was just make sure I was doing all the things, continue to learn the playbook, continue to grow even though I was on the sideline, making sure when I did come back I was ready,” Taylor said last week.
Throughout his layoff, Taylor met most mornings with linebackers coach Nick Rallis to make sure he wasn’t falling behind.
“With the injury I wanted to make sure I was still doing the same things, my same routines, even though I wasn’t on the field,” he said. “I didn’t want to let that be a setback. Just make sure I continue to grow even though I was injured. I still do that every single day and make sure I’m growing every single day.
“I knew I was raw last year. I knew I had a lot to learn. I’m still learning every single day. So I just know I need it and I’ll continue to do that. Even if I do 10, 11 years here, I’ll continue doing the same thing, just to make sure I continue to grow.”
Taylor only played 32 snaps on defense as a rookie and had only played 18 this year before the Carolina game. But on Sunday in Charlotte, we finally saw our first glimpse of the kind of player Taylor can be.
In the longest playing time of his career, he really shined in the Eagles’ 21-18 win over the Panthers. Now, that’s not hard to do that considering the way the Eagles’ linebackers have played this year. But we really saw the athleticism and explosiveness the Eagles liked when they drafted him in the 3rd round out of Colorado last year.
Taylor played a career-high 24 snaps and was very active, with four tackles. His playing time came at the expense of Eric Wilson, who struggled the first month of the season. Wilson averaged 52 snaps the first four games of the season but was down to 29 Sunday.
“As far as Davion goes, he was really showing up in OTAs and in training camp and really showing good ability and explosive play-making ability, so we really wanted to be able to play him early and often and he got injured,” Nick Sirianni said.
“He was out for an extended period of time, but we were really high and hopeful on Davion right from the very beginning. It's just good to have him back and good to have him rolling through everything.”
A lot was made about how Taylor barely played any high school football and had a short college career, so he’s just still relatively new to football.
That means he still has a lot to learn. But he said he’s already made huge strides from where he was last year.
“For one, my play recognition (has improved),” he said. “Last year, I felt like I used to jump around and the play already started by the time I recognized what was going on. This year I feel like I’m starting to recognize it even sooner. When I see the formation now I have an idea what may come and just knowing what’s about to come before it happens and when the play happens knowing where to go.”
And what about his playing time? It should definitely continue increasing. The Eagles are desperate for athletic linebacker play and Taylor is showing signs that he can really help.
“It’s up to the coaches but whatever I’m in I’m going to make sure I give 100 percent,” he said. “If it’s like 9 plays or if it’s like 50 plays, I'm going to make sure whatever plays I get make sure I’m executing. But I hope I continue to just ramp up on reps because I feel like I can help this team and I know I will.”