The Seattle Seahawks could get a boost to their defensive line during the NFL playoffs as rookie pass rusher Darrell Taylor has begun practicing heading into Wild Card Weekend. Taylor has yet to play in an NFL game as he continued to recover from a leg injury that required surgery prior to the draft.
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll revealed Taylor has finally returned to practice hinting the defensive end has a chance to play against the Rams. Seattle selected the Tennessee pass rusher in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft with the No. 48 pick.
The Seahawks traded up to draft Taylor and thought so highly of the defensive lineman that the team considered taking him with their first-round pick. After the draft, Carroll expressed excitement that the Seahawks were able to snag Taylor in the second round.
“That was a big deal,” Carroll noted, per Seahawks.com. “Because we thought maybe we had missed our chance in the sense that we really wanted to get him on the rush group. When we were able to hang through it and get him, that was a big pick for us. As I go down the list, every guy had something kind of special to him. But then again, I was really surprised that Alton [Robinson] was still there because he could be a big help for our football team.”
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Taylor Had Back-to-Back Seasons with 8 or More Sacks at Tennessee
Taylor finished his college career at Tennessee with two straight seasons with eight or more sacks. The Seahawks defensive end has had a frustrating start to his NFL career as Taylor dealt with unexpected complications with his leg injury. Seahawks general manager John Schneider revealed Taylor played through a stress fracture during his final season at Tennessee.
“Our guys did a great job of working their tails off trying to keep getting up to try to acquire him, and it was pretty hot,” Schneider said after the draft, per Sports Illustrated. “We view him as one of the very, very top pass rushers in this [class]. He played through a stress fracture last year in his leg, in his fibula, and just sucked it up and ended up having surgery at the end of the year. Our doctors feel good about him, and we’ve seen him run around.”
Carroll on if Taylor Has Long-Term Health Concerns: ‘I’m Trying Not to Go There’
The Seahawks previously painted a grim outlook for Taylor indicating that the pass rusher may not play this season. Before the most recent news, Carroll was asked if he had concerns about Taylor’s long-term health.
“I’m trying to not go there,” Carroll noted, via Pro Football Talk. “I’m trying to keep holding a good thought like we’re going to be OK if given enough time here and all of that. I don’t know what to say for the long haul of it. We’re just trying to get him back now and see what he’s able to. It will certainly help him to have another offseason. It will certainly help.”
It will be worth watching how Taylor fits into the defensive line rotation if he is cleared to play. Heading into the season, the Seahawks defensive line was an area of concern after the team’s struggles at getting to the quarterback in 2019 along with the decision not to re-sign Jadeveon Clowney. A mid-season trade for Carlos Dunlap jump-started the defense as the Seahawks have jumped from No. 24 in sacks in 2019 all the way to No. 7 as the team is averaging 2.9 per game.