Impact Analysis: Chris Taylor

The Patriots added another running back to theer roster in former Houston Texan last week. We checked with a NFL scout, a team insider and someone familiar with Taylor from his days in Houston. Here's what we've learned

RB Chris Taylor, a third-year running back out of Indiana who ended each of the last two seasons on injured reserve with the Texans, signed with the Patriots last week. The 5-11, 220-pounder had previously worked out for the Patriots before training camp.

"We felt like he'd be a good addition and would be competitive in this camp," Bill Belichick said of Taylor, who rushed for 123 yards and a touchdown on 28 attempts in four games played as an undrafted rookie in 2006. He played in three games last fall with 37 yards on 14 attempts.

"Really, they just said we need you to come in and help out," Taylor said of getting the call after being out of football since Houston released him with an injury settlement last October. "I've been patient. I've been working out. So I'm ready."

The addition of Taylor gives the Patriots six running backs on the depth chart.

Roster Impact

Taylor's presence on the roster is little more than a way to see if BenJarvus Green-Ellis can make the final cut. Taylor isn't about to replace Laurence Maroney or Fred Taylor for starting duties. Kevin Faulk remains a critical component as a third down back and Sammy Morris has a role to play behind Fred Taylor. So while Taylor was added to compete, the ceiling for him is limited. It's possible Chris Talylor could push for a spot on the club, but only if he has a remarkable preseason.

So far, Taylor managed one catch for 10 yards.

Taylor's Background
(from team press release)]

Taylor, 6-0, 224 pounds, was originally signed by the Houston Texans as a rookie free agent out of Indiana in 2006. He has seen action in seven NFL games and has accumulated 160 rushing yards with one touchdown and caught three passes for 40 yards. Taylor spent most of his rookie year on the Houston practice squad before joining the 53-man roster in December and seeing action in four games. He had a breakout game in the 2006 season-finale against Cleveland when he gained 99 yards on 20 rushing attempts, including a five-yard touchdown run. Taylor missed all of the 2007 season with a knee injury. He returned to action in 2008 and played in the first six games of the 2008 season before suffering an injury that forced him to the injured reserve list.

Scouting Report
(from NFL insider Charlie Bernstein)

Chris Taylor is your classic short yardage back. At 6'0", 224 lbs., Taylor can make himself low at the point of contact, and can occasionally run through tacklers. Taylor looks better in practice than in games, and he really doesn't have enough speed to be considered anything more than average.

Taylor's knee injury seemed to take a toll on him, as he simply wasn't the same player afterwards and was injured again. The Texans backfield behind Steve Slaton is a whose who of washed up guys and nobodies, and Taylor wasn't extended an invite to camp this year.

Positive / Negative

PRO: Adding Smith gives the Patriots one more body to evaluate in camp. With 80 players allowed on the roster, the team needs to evaluate players who could be available during the season if injury strikes the lineup. The roster cut to 53 is less than two weeks away and the team needs to take every opportunity to evaluate talent. Remember the year the Patriots had to sign Amos Zeroue off the street and then throw him into the lineup because they didn't have a healthy running back to hand off to the following Sunday? It was 2005, Corey Dillon was the lead back with Kevin Faulk and Patrick Pass as backups. Heath Evans joined the team while Zereoue and Mike Cloud did their best to fill in. That's why having Taylor in camp make sense.

CON: As talented as Taylor might be, having him take carries away from Green-Ellis will put both backs at a disadvantage. In one season, Green-Ellis outperformed what Taylor was able to accomplish in two. Green-Ellis played in 9 games (3 starts) for the Patriots last season carrying the ball 74 times for 275 yards and 5 TD. He also made 3 receptions for 37 yards. In two seasons four the Texans, Taylor played in 7 games (no starts), carried the ball 42 times for 160 yards and 1 TD.

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