Snapshot: Demetrius Taylor

According to Mike Prisuta, converted defender Demetrius Taylor showed the Steelers enough this spring at fullback for the experiment to continue.

The big man who had been scouted by the Steelers on defense flared out into the flat, accepted the dump-down pass from Dennis Dixon and headed up the field. In doing so, Demetrius Taylor demonstrated the type of ability and athleticism wide receivers coach Scottie Montgomery must be referencing whenever he describes a player as being "quick to the tuck."

It was pointed out shortly thereafter to the Steelers' offensive coordinator that if the big man who had been scouted as a defender can keep doing on offense what he did during OTAs, even Bruce Arians might be more inclined to incorporate a fullback into the attack.

Arians clearly appreciated the intended humor in the suggestion, as well as the hint of intrigue.

"We'll see," Arians said. "You never know."

For now, the possibilities of Taylor someday completing the transition from college defensive lineman to NFL fullback are at least worth continuing to explore.

At 6-foot and 273 pounds Taylor was a little on the small side as a potential defensive lineman.

But his background as a high school ball-carrier, his passion for contact, and his ability to navigate his 273 pounds with surprising agility made the position switch the Steelers have undertaken with Taylor an obvious alternative.

Although Taylor worked out as a defensive lineman at Virginia Tech's pro day prior to the draft, "Coach (Mike) Tomlin told me he was looking at me for fullback," Taylor said. "The Lions told me, and a few other teams told my agent, San Francisco and the Browns. My agent was telling me after my pro day that people were pretty much looking at me for fullback. I already understood from the start I was undersized for a defensive lineman. The only other thing I could probably play was linebacker. That's another position you have to learn.

"I pretty much knew I was going to be a fullback. I've always felt like a natural fullback-slash-running back. I played tailback in high school. I just got bigger so they put my hand on the ground."

Taylor rushed for 927 yards and scored 20 TDs as a senior in high school. At Tech he started out at outside linebacker (he'd also been a linebacker in high school) before moving to defensive end and eventually defensive tackle.

"I always felt like I possessed fullback skills," he said. "I've always liked contact. That was my main thing."

Minicamp and the OTAs alerted Taylor as to the attention to detail his new position demands. In college he'd listen for one call in the huddle, but those days are over.

"It does keep you on your game all the time," he said. "You have to be listening for every call in the huddle. I like the challenge. We'll see how it goes."

The risk of the position switch is low given Taylor's status as an undrafted free agent. The reward might eventually prove significant for Taylor and the Steelers, although he has no illusions about becoming the team's next Dan Kreider, who was the team's Rookie of the Year in 2000.

"Hopefully, I'll be around at least for a year to try and learn it, and then after that try to get on the 53-man roster," Taylor said. "Once I get 100 percent comfortable I think I'll like it."

If he proves as adept at the other nuances of fullback as he is quick to the tuck, the Steelers might, too.


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