BEREA, Ohio -- On the first day of practice, Cleveland Browns rookie defensive tackle Phil Taylor is already on the first team.
Although Taylor missed four days of training camp in a contract dispute, Cleveland wasted no time getting its first-round pick acclimated to the starting lineup. Taylor was lined up opposite fellow defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin with Cleveland's No. 1 defense Thursday during the team’s morning walk-through.
If the Browns have it their way, that won't change any time soon. Taylor is expected to be a vital cog in Cleveland's new 4-3 defense this season.
"I feel great just to be out there with the guys practicing and learning a new defense," Taylor said. "I've played in the 4-3 my whole college career. So it's not that hard."
Taylor was the last rookie to sign in the AFC North. The Browns and Taylor’s representation bickered over the fourth year being guaranteed. Cleveland eventually relented.
Taylor had weight issues in college but looks lean and in shape. He says he weighs 338 pounds, which is around his ideal playing weight. Rubin weighs 315 pounds, which makes for 653 pounds of beef in the front of Cleveland's defense.
"I'm happy he's here," Browns middle linebacker D'Qwell Jackson said of Taylor. "I told him, 'You take care of me, and I will take care of you.'"
Rubin, 25, is already one of the young, up-and-coming defensive tackles in the NFL. If Taylor, the No. 21 overall pick, also pans out, Cleveland could have two young anchors on defense for years to come.
"We're focused on stopping the run and at the same time trying to get to the passer," Rubin said. "I think Phil is a good pass-rusher. So we will wait and see what happens. I'm excited."