CHARLOTTE, N.C. – There was a time early in training camp, with Alex Singleton shut down with Covid, that Davion Taylor was getting first-team reps at linebacker.
Then a bothersome calf injury happened, and stuck around for the remainder of training camp, and into the season.
Now, it appears as if the injury is healed, and Taylor is back earning reps.
In the Eagles’ come-from-behind 21-18 win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, he got a career-high 24 snaps on defense. He had played just 18 total in the first four games. Last year, he had just 32 in 12 games.
“I thought he did well,” said fellow linebacker T.J. Edwards following a win in which he made one of the plays of the game with a blocked punt in the final four minutes that led to a 27-yard drive and game-winning touchdown.
“I think every day (Taylor) comes in with an open mindset. He wants to learn as much as he can, and I think he’s just a guy who comes in every single day and works and works and works and wants his body to be right. Mentally he’s doing everything he can to be right for us.
“Obviously, he’s got a lot of talent. It’s just good to see him out there healthy and running around to be honest with you.”
It would seem there is going to be a role in rookie defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon’s defense. Based on how he played against the Panthers, perhaps an even more substantial one moving forward.
Head coach Nick Sirianni was asked about Taylor on Monday afternoon.
"He was really showing up in OTAs and in training camp and really showing good ability and explosive play-making ability," he said, "so we really wanted to be able to play him early and often and just he got injured. 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."
Taylor made four tackles in his 24 snaps. He also got six snaps on special teams.
As for a future, meatier role, Taylor is hopeful, but willing to do whatever is asked.
“It’s up to the coaches,” he said on Friday, two days before playing the Panthers. “Whenever I’m in, I’m going to make sure I give 100 percent. If it’s nine plays or 50 plays, I want to make sure whatever plays I get I’m executing. Hopefully, I continue to ramp up on reps because I feel like I can help this team and I know I will.”
Staying healthy is also something Taylor needs to figure out, and he thinks he has.
He said he stretches an extra 20 to 25 minutes before each practice and game.
“(I’m) making sure my body is completely ready,” he said. “(The injury) was lingering, but now I make sure I’m taking care of it and doing what the trainers are telling me to do and staying on top of it. I’m ready to go now, get out there and get my reps.”
Taylor was a surprise pick in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft, the 103rd player taken overall despite a resume short on football experience.
Raised a Jehovah’s Witness, he wasn’t allowed to play high school football since Friday is a day of worship. He went to a community college then earned a scholarship to the University of Colorado.
After a rookie season where he barely saw the field other than on special teams, he decided to meet with new linebacker coach Nick Rallis each morning, at first virtually then face-to-face during OTAs and once training camp began.
“That was my idea,” Taylor said. “I knew I was raw last year and had a lot to learn. I'm still learning every single day, so I need it and I’m going to continue to do it, even if I do 10, 11 years here, I want to make sure I’m doing the same thing to continue to grow.”
That growth took a big step in Carolina.
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.