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Expect Davion Taylor to Be in a Battle for Playing Time

The former third-round draft pick has to prove he can stay healthy then will have his work cut out for him trying to find time with Kyzir White and Nakobe Dean in the mix
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No way Howie Roseman expected Nakobe Dean to be sitting there in the third round when the Eagles made it to the clock late on the second day of the 2022 NFL Draft.

So, the GM reconstructed his linebacking corps during free agency, signing Haason Reddick and Kyzir White.

Dean was a bonus.

Still, it sort of tells you what the Eagles might be thinking about Davion Taylor.

Like Dean, Taylor was a third-round pick, the 103rd player taken overall in 2020. He was raw and the expectation was he would progress.

It looked like he was on his way last year, starting six games.

Then the Saints came to town in Week 11 and Taylor suffered a knee injury and his season was over. It was a season that had begun with him having to overcome a calf injury.

Taylor is still in the mix, but it’s going to be more challenging for him to pick up where he left off last year.

“It was very disappointing because I was starting to get better, my process was getting better, and my movement was getting better,” said Taylor during OTAs. “So, the biggest thing was just coming off of that injury and everything was making sure I was starting off where I left off.

“I feel like my injury was a setback, but then again, it let me home in on my fundamentals. …The injury, it was a little bit of a setback because I knew I was getting better game by game. But the biggest thing is not letting it affect me in the future.”

It’s a cloudy future, with White around and Dean cross-training between the middle and Taylor's outside spot.

Taylor, though, showed just how far he had come in Week 10 against the Broncos when he forced a pair of fumbles, one of which was returned for a touchdown by Darius Slay.

It’s all about health for him. 

As a rookie, he didn’t play much, but even then, a knee injury limited him to 12 games, and the injury theme is something the Eagles didn’t seem to feel comfortable with, so they went for a reconstruction.

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Now, Taylor appears to be the backup to White. At least based on the two OTA practices reporters were allowed to watch.

In the first OTA, first-team reps were doled out to T.J. Edwards and White.

“I feel actually like it’s been a motivation,” Taylor said about the White signing. “We all know we’re going to compete and everything. But he’s a vet. He’s been in the league a long time. I ask him questions sometimes.

"By him being in the room, I feel like it’s helping me a lot. I’m going to ask questions because I know he’s been in the league longer. He’s been playing longer. He’s seen way more things than I’ve seen.”

Not much was seen of Dean during the brief OTA sessions open to reporters. If anything, it appeared as if the rookie was running deep down the depth chart.

Second-team reps went to Taylor and Christian Elliss with Dean and JaCoby Stevens working on the third team.

Clearly, nothing will be handed to Dean or Taylor, for that matter, but there may come a day when the two will have to battle for reps.

“He’s a great player,” said Taylor about Dean. “I feel like me and him click personally, just because we’re from Mississippi, we’re both from the south. We talk a lot, we both play the same position, so me personally, I don’t see it as competition just yet.

“Right now, it’s OTAs, so we’re just connecting. We’re helping each other out. I’m helping him learn what he’s doing. When the time comes, I know we’re going to have to compete. But right now, it’s all about connecting, and getting better as a team and as a group.”

It’s a group that is better than it was when Taylor was drafted.

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Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Fan Nation Eagles Today and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglesmaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.