The Arizona Cardinals have seen very little of running back Stepfan Taylor since they drafted him in April.
But it’s not his fault.
The team’s Tempe training facility has been off limits to the Stanford rookie.
Again, not his fault.
He did participate in the three-day rookie minicamp, May 10-12, but then missed all ten organized team activities (OTAs) and the just completed three-day mandatory minicamp.
Taylor, a fifth round pick (140th overall), didn’t have a choice.
Players coming out of college cannot take part in any NFL spring practices until their college or university has had its graduation.
Stanford, because it’s on the quarter system, didn’t wrap up final exams until last Wednesday, keeping Taylor away from his new employer.
That changes Monday.
Taylor, as well as the other rookies, will be spending this week at the training facility, getting individual instruction.
“We’ll get an opportunity to take a look at the video, the practices that we’ve had since he’s been gone,” running backs coach Stump Mitchell said. “We’ll get a chance to go through the playbook so he can get an understanding of what we’re trying to do and his responsibility as a back in this offense. He’s a smart guy.”
After playing behind All-American Toby Gerhart his freshman year, Taylor rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of his next three seasons at Stanford, leaving as the school’s all-time leader in career rushing yards (4,300).
That success, plus the work he did get done in May, have coaches excited about Taylor once he puts the Cardinals uniform on full-time.
“We’re going to be an inside running team, for the most part,” Mitchell said. “He proved that he can carry the ball; very explosive once he gets in the open field and he’s a powerful runner between the tackles. I think he definitely complements Rashard (Mendenhall) and the other running backs that we have.”
Taylor, who never missed a college game due to injury, may be behind those other backs when training camp begins, but head coach Bruce Arians didn’t seem too concerned when asked about it last week.
While in Indianapolis a year ago, Arians faced the same situation when quarterback Andrew Luck, also from Stanford, couldn’t participate in OTAs.
“He’s got a whole lot easier position to play,” Arians said of Taylor. “He knows how to run the football. The plays are so very similar to what he’s run in college. His thing will be picking up the blitzes, but he’s a very bright young man. He’s already had exposure to it all in the (rookie) minicamp. He knows what the rules are. It’s just coming back, like everybody else, putting the pads on and getting to do it.”
Added Mitchell, “There’s nothing like having reps. He’ll get those in training camp.”