Taylor said he's poised for a breakthrough

OWINGS MILLS - Before the Ravens' passing camp began, wide receiver Travis Taylor had an extended conversation with his position coach. The major gist of his discussion with David Shaw: It's time for Taylor to maintain his intensity throughout the entire year. Both Taylor, the Ravens' fourth-year wideout, and Shaw, the quarterbacks and receivers coach, emphasized that there's no room for excuses.

It's time to go forward and stop dwelling on the past.

With the intended byproduct being a consistent flow of receptions, yardage and touchdowns befitting his status as a former first-round draft pick, Taylor has increased his dedication to conditioning and drills.

Standing at a crossroads where the promise of ability and the bottom line of results intersect, Taylor said he's on the right path.

"I'm going to prove everyone wrong," said Taylor, who was drafted 10th overall three years ago out of the University of Florida. "I know I had a lot of chances last year that I didn't capitalize on and I fault myself for that, nobody else but me. "I'm going to come out this year and have the right mindset. This will be a season worth remembering."

On the surface, last season would appear to have been a breakthrough season for Taylor. However, Taylor's career-high totals of 61 catches, 869 yards and six touchdowns left him aware that he was capable of much more. Taylor, 25, has set his sights on a 1,000-yard season.

"Travis came back up here from Florida stronger and faster," Shaw said. "He's in great shape, and the best thing is he's coming in here with the right mentality. "He's going to work for everything he gets. He's going to be physical. He's going to be intense through this entire ordeal and I'm looking forward to it."

If Taylor's career track is an accurate indicator, then loftier statistics will likely occur. Since his rookie season was abbreviated by a broken collarbone after 28 catches, Taylor's numbers have increased each year. He caught 42 passes for 560 yards and three touchdowns in his second season, finishing third on the team in receptions.

Last season, he topped those numbers by 19 receptions, 309 yards and three touchdowns. From the coaching staff's standpoint, at least outwardly, nothing has changed for Taylor despite the additions of veteran receivers Frank Sanders and Marcus Robinson. Ravens coach Brian Billick said he still expects Taylor to serve as the team's top outside threat.

Yet, the addition of two former Pro Bowl alternates and 1,000-yard receivers increases the ante in Taylor's opinion. He wants to achieve what they've already accomplished. Shaw said that Taylor remains his most knowledgeable, versatile receiver.

At passing camp, Taylor has lined up at every receiver spot, running a variety of patterns. He's virtually always open and a step ahead of the secondary.

"Travis has been awesome," Shaw said.

Taylor wasn't as plagued by drops as rookie Ron Johnson last season, but still dropped more than his fair share of footballs. It almost appeared contagious. And it clearly affected the Ravens' passing game, which plummeted to 27th overall in the league.

"If I drop the first football, another guy would drop another one," Taylor said. "You can't have that happen. The worst thing that can happen is when you're not into the game and not excited. "I think it's going to be much different this year. With guys like Marcus Robinson and Frank Sanders here, everyone needs to step up their game. The standard has been raised."

Tight end Todd Heap led the Ravens with 68 receptions last year, reached the Pro Bowl in his second season and became the focal point of the passing game. Taylor is looking for a similar experience as he enters his fourth season in the league. And his discussions with Shaw have motivated him further.

"Coach Shaw said some good things," Taylor said. "I've got to work and it's not going to come easy. I've got to earn it."

NOTES: Veteran defensive back Corey Fuller returned to practice after missing the first day of the voluntary camp, working at both cornerback and safety. Billick said that Fuller and Gary Baxter would likely see action at both spots during the season. … Tom Knight, a candidate for nickel back and corner duties, worked with the first defense at corner. … Several linemen are working out alongside the passing camp, including Orlando Brown, Casey Rabach, Bennie Anderson, Jason Thomas, Tony Pashos, Maake Keomeatu, Jarrett Johnson and Adalius Thomas. … The Ravens resume workouts on Thursday.


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