There was no doubt in his mind he had torn his ACL, but at the same time, he knew there was no time to mope. A day that had started with so much promise as he made his first NFL start had taken a sudden turn, but he refused to let it get him down. Laying there in pain, he immediately began mentally preparing himself to work as hard as he could to rehab.
“When it first happened I knew what it was, and I just started preparing myself for the road ahead,” he said about the moment he was injured in Week 16. “I started thinking about what the process was going to be, who was going to do my surgery and how I was going to rehab it. So that is what I was thinking right when it happened.”
Taylor’s goal was to be back in time for the start of the season and he imagined the day he’d be back on the practice field.
That day was today when the safety was officially activated from the Physically Unable to Perform list.
The team’s third-round pick in 2012 knew 24 hours in advance that he would suit up on Friday afternoon. On Thursday, he aced a physical as well as a workout conducted for the coaches and training staff. According to Taylor, everyone came away impressed.
“(Secondary) Coach (Ron) Milus put me through a workout in front of everyone to see if I could come back to practice,” he said. “Everyone said I did real well so they let me come out and do individuals today. (Defensive Coordinator) John Pagano watched me go through the workout, and he kept telling me how good I was doing. He said I looked real good and that gave me confidence today. And (head) coach (Mike) McCoy said he was excited I was coming back and that he looked forward to seeing me play.”
McCoy also stressed that point in his post-practice press conference with the media Friday, beginning it by talking extensively about Taylor.
“It’s great to have him back because he’s worked so hard to get here to this point,” he said. “(Athletic Trainer) James Collins and his staff did a great job with him. When you go through something like that and have surgery, it’s a long rehab process. It’s great for him to get back out here. He’s been chomping at the bit ever since the OTAs started. When we got together as a team for the first time on the field this year, he always sat back there and watched. You can tell it was driving him crazy. We’ll just take it day to day with him and gradually work him into things.”
“He did a nice job,” he said. “We limited what he was going to do today. He went through certain drills and did a nice job. He’ll get better every day. He’ll get more and more comfortable. The key thing is to have confidence.”
Taylor certainly has confidence, but he is also grateful for all those who’ve helped him along the way.
“It felt great just to be out there playing football and being out there with the team,” he said. “Just being out there and forming that bond with my teammates; there’s nothing like it. And I really have to credit the Chargers organization. The training staff, the doctors, the coaches and everyone who played a part in it had me in for numerous hours, worked real hard with me and put a lot of stress on me and my knee to make sure it was coming back strong. They gave me the time to get the rehab done the right way so that when I came back I’d be fully back. I can’t thank them enough.”
You can watch Taylor in person by coming out to Saturday’s FanFest or any other open practice. Click here to learn more.