There are bound to be a few surprises – some good, some bad – where the 2021 Cincinnati Bengals are concerned.
One pleasant surprise so far in training camp has been receiver/return specialist Trent Taylor, who comes to the Bengals from the San Francisco 49ers, who drafted him in the fifth round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
But he is not a surprise to Cincinnati head coach Zac Taylor, who got to see Trent Taylor twice a year as the assistant wide receivers coach/quarterbacks coach for the NFC West-rival Los Angeles Rams in 2017 and 2018.
“He’s been in this league several years, been in a very similar system, so it’s not foreign to him, so he’s able to play fast,” Coach Taylor said of one of the Bengals’ newer additions, who is hoping to step into the shoes of the departed Alex Erickson. “It might not be the same name of the play that he’s used to, but he can recognize the concept and say OK, I know that concept, we ran it in San Francisco.”
And it wasn’t that long ago that Trent Taylor not only ran it, but ran it well.
As a rookie in 2017, Taylor went for 430 yards on 43 receptions, with two touchdowns. Injuries derailed his progress, though, as he missed all of 2019 due to foot surgery. Last year, Taylor managed just 10 catches for 86 yards through 12 games.
Taylor the receiver, at 5-8 and 180 pounds, has been having an outstanding camp so far, and is one of the highlights for an offense that is widely expected to be one of the best in the NFL.
“[Friday], you saw him make two great catches,” Coach Taylor said, “the one on the shallow cross at the goal line and then that far pylon route, that was a great job throwing him open there by, I think it was Brandon (Allen). And then he went and made a great top-tap play in the back of the end zone, so he’s done a nice job. He’s really detailed.”
Despite the praise, Taylor, the shifty slot receiver out of Louisiana Tech, is not taking anything for granted.
“I’ve got to come in and win a job,” he told Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com. Being the new guy on the block, I’ve got to earn everything that’s been given to me. I’ve got to keep fighting and keep putting up one good day after another.”
So far, he’s off to a good start.