Earlier this week when the Titans released their first unofficial depth chart, Coach Mike Vrabel was questioned as to why Taywan Taylor was listed ahead of Tajae Sharpe and on the first unit. Vrabel brushed the matter aside with an innocuous and somewhat evasive answer.
Taylor, a third-round pick from Western Kentucky in 2017, got plenty of action in Thursday night’s preseason opener against the Eagles, but he didn’t make the most of his chances. In fact, Taylor struggled, dropping one Ryan Tannehill pass that would have been a first down, and not being able to adjust to a slightly underthrown ball that would have been a Tennessee touchdown.
All in all, you get the idea, it wasn’t a good look Thursday night for Taylor, who found himself outplayed by upstarts like Kalif Raymond and Cody Hollister, both of whom are long shots for a roster spot.
Vrabel kept things generic when asked if he had a conversation with Taylor about his struggles in the preseason opener.
“We talk to all the players about trying to do their job and to play better. Whether that’s Taywan or Kamalei Correa, or Rashaan Evans, we talk to them all the time. We coach them and we’re going to coach everything that we can for every player that’s here. Just had to try to eliminate some of those things and get back to work,” Vrabel said Friday.
Taylor, who had 37 catches last season for 466 yards and one touchdown, is another player who has flashed here and teased there, while still trying to find a regular role and find consistency in his game.
One bad preseason performance won’t get him run out of town, despite the social media overreaction that he won’t make the 53-man roster.
But Thursday night can’t be completely overlooked and ignored either. Taylor has to step up, and he has to be counted upon when his number is called.
Vrabel was asked in general about how to deal with players with confidence issues. And while the questioner did not mention Taylor by name, he didn’t have to, because it appeared from Thursday night’s struggles that Taylor fits directly into that category.
“We’re all here for a reason. We all got here – whether that be as a coach, or a player, or personnel, or a trainer, anybody in professional sports – we’ve all gotten here because of hard work, dedication, confidence and ability,” Vrabel said. “Once they go out there, they’ve got to just go and play. We have to not worry about the last play or the next play and just continue to focus and concentrate on the player each day individually. A lot of times, guys get supportive of their teammates and there’s a lot of different things. We just try to coach them and get them to play up to their ability.”
That said, it is time for Taylor to react much like Sharpe has taken the signing of Adam Humphries and the drafting of A.J. Brown as a personal challenge to let the Titans coaching staff and front office know that he deserves a role on this team.