Taylor Looks to Get Back to Full Strength

The Sooners came into last December's Brut Sun Bowl concerned about ending their three-game bowl losing streak. They accomplished that feat, but in the process of doing so they left El Paso concerned about something else: defensive tackle Adrian Taylor's status for the upcoming season.

Taylor suffered an excruciating broken ankle in OU's 31-27 victory over Stanford, casting doubt on his health for 2010.

But he's recovered fairly well and is back on the field for preseason practice, although obviously not at 100 percent.

"He probably took maybe 40 percent of the reps," said defensive coordinator Brent Venables during OU Media Day Friday. "He did well."

When asked whether or not that 40 percent was his actual status or just how much they're allowing him to do, he responded with the latter.

"That's where they're starting me out, seeing what I can do, don't want to rush anything and not be able to do anything for the rest of the two-a-days or get hurt for the season or something like that," Taylor said. "So [they're] just being cautious and don't want to rush anything, but I definitely expect to be doing more than that very soon."

The simple fact that he could be on the field closer to full strength and working more reps in the near future is very comforting for Sooner fans considering how much of a mainstay he was in a dominant defense throughout 2009.

"He's extremely tough," Venables said. "He and Gerald [McCoy] last year really kind of were the backbone of our defense. We've been renownedly known for having quite a bit of depth across our front four and keeping guys fresh and rotating throughout the years, and last year was an exception to that rule where we kept what we felt like our best 11 on the field."

That meant Taylor played the bulk of the snaps on defense.

"To ask those guys to play the amount of snaps they did and Adrian play the amount of snaps he did at, you know, 300 lbs., and playing 75, 80, 85 snaps was quite a tribute to again his toughness and his durability," Venables said.

That same toughness is something that's a huge factor in how soon he gets back to action.

"He's fought like tooth and nail just like he did for us as a player in his rehab, and so he's fully released," Venables said. "A lot of when you come off injuries like that whether it be a knee or the severity, I couldn't even tell you all the things that, the complications in regards to the ankle fracture--but, you know, you're off it for six months in essence--it takes some time from a mental stand point, too, to trust it and trust the healing and things of that nature.

"So each individual's different, and Adrian's tough, and he loves this team and loves to compete and play, so it won't surprise me, you know, to see him out there and back to his old self in due time."

As for Taylor, he said sitting out has made him anxious to get back while appreciating the game more.

"Yes sir, you sit out on the sideline for eight months or whatever it's been, [and] then, I mean, you get a feeling of, you know, I can do this," Taylor said. "I can get back out there and help my guys and actually be able to do it no matter how much you owe. It's just a blessing right there, so I'm excited about that, excited about the season."

The Sooners just hope he'll be healthy enough to contribute the way he needs to in order to solidify yet another dominant defense this fall.