ASHBURN, Va. -- Smiling and unusually congenial, safety Sean Taylor reported to Washington Redskins training camp Sunday, ending an offseason in which he snubbed his coaches and got arrested in Florida.
"I'm happy to be back," Taylor said as he walked to his car
after taking a required conditioning test with the team's training
Taylor sported a different look and different attitude, at least
in the few seconds he was exposed to reporters.
He wore his hair tightly braided under a baseball cap, with
green shirt and white baggy shorts. He smiled as reporters walked
with him and even paused in his car to give one photographer extra
time to take his picture -- a gesture unimaginable when Taylor was
boycotting the media for much of last year.
Taylor said he would speak more at length Monday, when the
Redskins hold their first practices.
"I'll have something for you in the morning," he said.
Being cooperative won't end Taylor's troubles, however. He is
facing a felony charge of aggravated assault with a firearm and a
misdemeanor charge of simple battery stemming from a June 1
confrontation near his Miami home. His trial is set for Sept. 12,
the day after the Redskins open the regular season. Even if the
trial is postponed, the matter will cloud Taylor's season.
Even before his arrest, Taylor upset coach Joe Gibbs by staying
away from the team's offseason meetings and practices. Taylor and
Gibbs had a long overdue face-to-face meeting Saturday.
"What he said to me made sense, made me feel good as far as the
mistakes he's made, what he had to say about it," Gibbs said.
"I'm not going to elaborate on what we talked about, but I thought
it was a good coach-player conversation."
Gibbs said Taylor "breezed" through the conditioning test, a
sign that Taylor kept himself in shape while away. Gibbs reiterated
that the Redskins will follow the NFL's lead in deciding whether to
discipline Taylor for the arrest, and the league won't act until
the case has made its way through the legal system.
"He wants to get back to play football," Gibbs said, "and the
rest of his situation is really controlled a lot by the league and
a lot by the court system, so there's not much we can say about
Taylor endured an eventful rookie year in 2004, including a
drunken driving charge that was later dismissed, a fine for
skipping the NFL's mandatory rookie symposium, several in-season
fines for uniform violations and illegal hits, and the hiring and
firing of two agents. He refused to speak to reporters for most of
the season and was often surly when approached.
"I think Sean will probably tell you he made some bad
choices," Gibbs said.
On the field, Taylor showed promise with his speed, athleticism
and his fearless hitting. He had 89 tackles, four interceptions,
forced two fumbles and finished fourth in voting for the AP's NFL
defensive rookie of the year.
"I want Sean to come in here and take care of his business on
the field, and I think he's prepared to do that," quarterback
Patrick Ramsey said. "It'll take care of itself from there."