No, Herb Taylor is not a quitter.
Officially, Taylor's in his third NFL season. So is the man he'll potentially replace in the Green Bay Packers' starting lineup at Sunday's training camp practice, left tackle Marshall Newhouse.
Taylor, however, will turn 28 on Sept. 22, a couple weeks after the regular season begins. Newhouse will turn 24 on Sept. 29. When Taylor was a senior at TCU in 2006, Newhouse was a true freshman.
Taylor was a sixth-round pick by Kansas City in 2007. He played in two games as a rookie and all 16 in 2008, including one start at left tackle. Taylor, however, hasn't played in a regular-season game since. He didn't make the Chiefs' roster in 2009 and sat out most of the season until a couple of brief stints with Denver. In 2010, he failed to earn a roster spot with the Giants and sat out the entire season. In 2011, he was back in Denver but didn't survive the final cut. He was out of the league until Green Bay signed him on Dec. 20.
That Taylor is still fighting, scratching and clawing to make it in the NFL is a testament to a man who doesn't know the meaning of quit.
"It's keeping faith and hoping that something comes along and following God's will and just keep moving and keep hoping," Taylor said during Sunday's midday media availability. "If this is for me, this will be. It's the grind of going through things and knowing what's in front of you and just keep going."
Taylor said 2010 was his toughest season, the one that put his faith to the biggest test. After being released by the Giants among their final cuts, the phone never rang.
"No, it's not," Taylor said when asked if it was hard to keep pushing. "You have to keep faith, and that's what I did. I just kept pushing. I have a very strong family support. When you have strong family support, you can pretty much do anything. They backed me up throughout this whole process."
Taylor was on the Packers' roster for the final two regular-season games and the playoff contest. He got a crash course in the playbook with offensive line coach James Campen during that time, learning the plays in concert with that week's game plan. He called himself "somewhat comfortable" with the plays then but is much more sure of himself now as he flip-flops with rookie Andrew Datko between left tackle and right tackle.
"Getting a whole offseason and now training camp, I'm really comfortable with the offense," Taylor said. "That's good for me. My MA's (missed assignments) really should be down to none, really."
Taylor's patience might finally be rewarded. In 2008, he made his only start in place of Branden Albert. According to the play counts at ProFootballfocus.com, Taylor played 117 snaps at tackle during a three-game span. After that, he was basically relegated to special teams other than 10 snaps at right guard, left tackle and even tight end. Now, regardless of what — if anything — is wrong with Newhouse, Taylor has a shot to stick. There is no public timetable for last year's first-round pick, Derek Sherrod, who broke his leg on Dec. 18, and rookie seventh-round pick Datko has two years of bad fundamentals and rust to kick off after an injury-plagued career at Florida State.
"It's one of those unfortunate things for Sherrod and Marshall right now, but somebody has to (play)," Taylor said. "Somebody has to step up, whether it's me or Andrew or any other guys that they decide to put in there."
No, Taylor most certainly is not a quitter.
"Everything counts. Every game counts. Every snap counts," he said. "When you get the opportunity to go out there, you have to make it worthwhile and you have to give it all you have because things change and things happen.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.