Jets have Taylor flyin#039; high

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 20, 2005

James Taylor is going to get a chance to take a bite out of the Big Apple.

Taylor, who played his high school football at Ironton, kept his dream alive of playing in the NFL after he signed a free agent contract Thursday to play cornerback for the New York Jets.

The 6-foot, 200-pound Taylor picked the Jets over several offers from NFL teams. One team, the Baltimore Ravens, only asked Taylor to play in their mini-camp and preseason camp with no chance of making the roster.

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"Baltimore was strictly looking for a guy for camp. They were straight up," Taylor said. "I was actually on my way back from New York and I spoke with Baltimore. That's when I told them I got signed today."

The Jets had seen Taylor at the NFL combine in Indianapolis and were impressed by his athleticism and 4.33 speed. Three days later the organization invited Taylor to come to New York for a personal workout that lasted all of 20 minutes as he ran one 40-yard sprint, one 20-yard shuttle and worked 10 minutes at position drills.

Taylor's workout was in front of the Jets defensive back coach, defensive coordinator, the director and assistant director of player personnel. Also lurking nearby were members of the coaching staff including head coach Herman Edwards.

"I did meet (Edwards). He came up and introduced himself. He was a nice guy," Taylor said. "When I was in Green Bay, I didn't meet the head coach the whole time I was there."

Taylor said he'll have a good chance to play with the Jets if he proves himself.

"My impression from talking to them is I have a really good opportunity coming in. If I play good and stay on the team, I'll play this year and not just on special teams. I'll play at corner," Taylor said.

"(The Jets) don't have any real big headliners in the defensive backfield. They're actually kind of weak in that area."

Taylor signed a free agent contract last summer with the Green Bay Packers as a cornerback and safety. He was later released in the second to last cut. Despite the release, Taylor saw the stint with the Packers as a positive waiver.

"I feel now that I've got that little bit of experience with that little stint in Green Bay that I have a real good shot of getting some playing time this year," said Taylor. "If you make a few plays in camp, that's all it takes."

Besides the preseason camp at Green Bay last season, Taylor played this winter as a cornerback and safety with the Arena League Ohio Valley Greyhounds.

"I decided I had to play ball. I can't sit out a year. I had to train. I couldn't sit out a year and expect teams to take me seriously."

Taylor, 24, began college at Ohio as a wide receiver but switched to strong safety before transferring to Georgetown for his senior season.

Last season at the NAIA school, Taylor played on both sides, but mostly at wingback. He rushed for 258 yards on 41 carries with two touchdowns and also caught 13 passes for 100 yards and one TD.

A triple threat, Taylor returned five kickoffs for 118 yards and made six tackles on defense.

As a safety at Ohio, Taylor started three games in 2001 on defense and posted 66 tackles for the Division I school. As a redshirt freshman in 2000, he started four games at split end and caught eight passes for 90 yards, seven for first downs.

Taylor was a two-year starter at Ironton High School and earned first team All-Ohio honors as a wide receiver his senior in 1998.

The athletic Taylor has a Mid-American Conference high jump championship on his list of credits. He cleared 7-feet to win the track title.

"(The Jets) don't even know about that and I didn't tell them directly. Green Bay and Miami knew, but I'm sure now that I've signed with them they're going to dig up on my past and background," Taylor said.

Taylor left Sunday for the Jets mini-camp that begins Monday.