Normally taciturn Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor commemorated yesterday's official end of training camp practices by talking to the media for the first time this summer.
Among the subjects discussed: how he is adjusting to a new safety alignment ("whatever you ask of me"); how he views the defense ("pretty crisp"); and his thoughts on leading by example for rookie safety LaRon Landry ("I'm not a mentor").
Taylor, who has been leery of the media since the Redskins took him fifth overall in the 2004 draft, spoke during an interview that lasted more than five minutes. His willingness to talk came in the wake of a team meeting in which players were encouraged to be more cooperative with the media.
Having started next to Matt Bowen, Ryan Clark, Pierson Prioleau, Adam Archuleta, Troy Vincent and Vernon Fox in his first three seasons, Taylor seemingly has found a long-term partner in Landry, the sixth choice in April.
"Every day I get more comfortable with LaRon and he gets more comfortable with me," Taylor said. "It's like a relationship. You've got to work on everything you want to work on as far as calls and trust factor and ... everyone being accountable for the defensive calls and where they're supposed to be. We're doing a good job with that chemistry."
Although assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams has changed the alignment of his two safeties to a traditional strong (Landry) and free (Taylor) setup, Taylor said that he doesn't think it's a big deal.
"I'm a safety, man," Taylor said. "I play free, strong, whatever you ask of me."
Taylor dismissed the concept of mentoring Landry.
"I'm not a mentor," said Taylor, who's just 18 months older than Landry despite having been in the league three years longer. "We're both learning at the same time every week."
To be fair, Taylor said Clark didn't mentor him either.
"I really care for Sean," Clark said from Pittsburgh, where he signed last season. "We got along really well. I knew the defense a little more than Sean did so I was able to point things out to him and try to lead him this way and that way. He was very receptive."
That's not exactly how Taylor viewed their on-field relationship.
"Ryan's a good guy," Taylor said. "I wish him all the best. [But] he did nothing [for me]. He played with me. He was a teammate. It's not a who I feel comfortable with situation. We have to play football. I don't think anyone in the NFL is tied to each other."
Taylor said that it's way too soon to say whether the defense, a top-10 unit his first two seasons, is back on track after collapsing to the league's second-worst last season. He and the starters held Tennessee to four first downs, 75 yards and a field goal (after a 5-yard drive) on four series in last week's preseason opener.
"It's very early," Taylor said. "[But] everyone looks pretty crisp. We're taking off with that. The season has already started. If you don't take this serious now, which I think we have been doing ... I take this job very seriously. You play a kid's game for a king's ransom. If you don't take it serious enough, eventually you'll say, 'I could have done this, I could have done that.' I'm going into my fourth year and why not do the best that I can, whether eating right or training right or studying harder? Whatever I can do to better myself."
In terms of eating and training differently, Taylor looks trimmer than he did in the past. He's listed as 212 pounds, 20 pounds lighter than he was last year. However, he said that he weighs the same 225 that he did in 2006.
Taylor also discussed his first Pro Bowl appearance, during which he made a memorable hit on punter Brian Moorman.
"Hawaii was definitely an experience I'll never forget," Taylor said. "You can't explain that experience. You'd have to go there for yourself and figure it out. I liked the fact that I got to meet players from different teams. It was football, but when we had our time off we hung out and talked about totally different things than football."