Baltimore backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor has trained with Michael Vick the past two offseasons, doing his best to absorb the knowledge his mentor has to offer.
The Ravens defense is putting that knowledge to use this week.
Baltimore plays Vick and the Eagles on Sunday and the Philadelphia QB presents a challenge with his playmaking ability when he runs.
Taylor, a sixth round draft pick in 2011, is not as accomplished as Vick but does possess a similar skill set. Both played at Virginia Tech and Taylor looks to run when the situation calls for it, but has enough arm strength to make plays in the passing game.
”He’s meant a lot to me, done a lot of things as far as helping me progress during my two years here,” Taylor said of Vick. ”I’m just looking forward to re-enacting some of the things he does for his offense this week to get our team prepared.”
Preparing for Vick’s speed is a challenge for most teams around the NFL.
Coach John Harbaugh said there was a debate in the quarterback meeting room as to who was faster, Vick or Taylor.
Taylor said the two quarterbacks are about even in straight-line speed but that Vick is quicker with his agility.
Even so, Taylor’s doing his best to be Vick in practice.
”I think Tyrod’s done a good job of putting himself as Michael Vick throughout the week,” Ravens defensive end Pernell McPhee said. ”If we can contain him it’ll be similar to containing Vick. … Both of them are scrambling quarterbacks that like to run before they pass.”
Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees has been impressed with the look Taylor’s given his defense during the first two days of practice this week.
”If he could throw left handed (like Vick) it would be even better,” Pees said. ”He’s certainly running around, scrambling, doing those kind of things, a great athlete. He can help us in a lot of ways. The only thing is you have to do is flip everything formation-wise for Vick because of the left-handed stuff.”
When Taylor was a freshman at Hampton High School in Virginia, Vick was in his third NFL season with the Atlanta Falcons. Taylor’s style of play drew comparisons to Vick, which came as no surprise considering Taylor was emulating him.
Taylor was a standout in high school and caught the eye of Virginia Tech, where he went on to set school records in total offense (9,213 yards), total passing yards (7,017), rushing yards for a quarterback (2,196) and wins (34).
The Virginia Tech connection helped spark a relationship between the former Hokies. Though Taylor is backing up Joe Flacco in Baltimore, Vick said he’s keeping an eye on his career from afar.
”He’s trying to learn as much as he can and he’s getting better as a quarterback as I watch him,” Vick said.
Even though training with Vick has given Taylor additional access in how the Eagles quarterback prepares, Taylor said he’s seen enough tape of Vick since childhood to know how he likes to play on game day.
”I’ve watched him enough throughout his time in high school, college and a lot of the things he’s done in the NFL,” Taylor said. ”He’s one of my favorite guys that play quarterback. We do a lot of similar things.”
Vick’s coming off a less-than-impressive performance against Cleveland, where he threw four interceptions. Still, Vick did lead the Eagle’s offense down the field on a 16-play, 91-yard drive that ended with a touchdown to tight end Clay Harbor with 1:18 left in the game to give the Eagles a 17-16 win.
Taylor hopes that being Vick for a week will give his team a definitive look of what to expect on Sunday.
”Going out there and trying to do some of things he does isn’t that hard for me,” Taylor said. ”But there are some things you have to watch, like how he controls the offense.”
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