The Arizona Cardinals released their depth chart on Monday, and it may come as no surprise rookie running back Stepfan Taylor is listed third behind veteran Rashard Mendenhall and third-year player Ryan Williams.
What may be a surprise is the amount of reps he’s getting in training camp. The former Stanford back is happy for the opportunity and plans to make the most of it.
“Getting the feel of the adjustments on offense and key words that I need to hear from the line and seeing how they block and how they adjust to different looks, it’s helped me out a lot,” Taylor said Monday after practice.
Taylor may continue to get a lot of reps throughout training camp. While Mendenhall and Williams are listed as 1-2 on the depth chart, they are both nursing injuries.
On Monday before practice, head coach Bruce Arians had high praise for Taylor, saying he’s a power back that has really good vision and likes to run between the tackles.
When asked about Arians’ remarks, Taylor shied away from the positive feedback.
“I try not to listen to it,” Taylor explained. “I just go out there and control what I can control. I can’t say what’s going on in their head but I can give a good impression.
“I have to come prepared, stay in my playbook and these live reps, since I missed OTAs and mini camps due to school, is really helping me out and I’m catching on.”
Taylor was selected by Arizona in the fifth round, 140th overall, of the draft. But he brings with him quite the resume. He’s the all-time leader in career rushing yards with 4,300 at Stanford.
“Being able to come here and play the game, I’m picking it up faster and the game is slowing down a little bit.”
As Taylor stated, he missed all of the offseason workouts due to school commitments. The reps are helping, but so are the other running backs. He gave them some credit for his quick integration into the new system.
“I feel comfortable,” Taylor said. “I have great teammates as well in the running back position that are helping me along the way. (Rashard) Mendenhall, Ryan Williams and Alfonso (Smith), they’re helping me out a lot with check downs and things like that that I might not know. They’re giving me their take on it as well, so it’s a good running back room.”
With the Cardinals’ first preseason game on Friday against the Packers in Green Bay, rookies and veterans alike are looking forward to the opportunity to play against someone not wearing a jersey with “Cardinals” across the chest.
“Go out there and control what you can control, be prepared and you know Green Bay is going to bring it,” Taylor said.
“It’s a process step-by-step and try not to think too far ahead and miss your opportunities and plays that you should know because you’re thinking too far ahead. Take it a step at a time and I think we’ll be fine.”
All-in-all, it sounds like Taylor will do his best to stay even-keeled, focused on the play book and the opportunity ahead of him, but he couldn’t deny playing at Lambeau Field in his first pro football game will be thrilling.
“I’m definitely excited for this,” Taylor said. “I mean, this is the first NFL game for me. I’m definitely excited to go out there and I know some players on Green Bay, as well. It should be an exciting game.”