Taylor switches from No. 99 to 55, has first Skins practice

Updated: July 23, 2008, 11:07 AM ET
Associated Press

ASHBURN, Va. -- Jason Taylor entered the locker room Tuesday morning ready to suit up for his first practice of training camp, just like he'd done before each of his past 11 NFL seasons.

This time, however, instead of finding a blue-and-orange Miami Dolphins uniform waiting for him, there was a burgundy-and-gold Washington Redskins outfit with an unfamiliar number.

Jason Taylor

Taylor

"Some of the guys in the locker room noticed I was uneasy with it at first," Taylor joked. "I was looking at the helmet and trying to figure out what it was and all that."

Taylor successfully put on the uniform, the first time he'd practiced with the team since being acquired from the Dolphins on Sunday for a second-round pick in 2009 and a sixth-round choice in 2010.

Taylor took the field in a No. 55 jersey, a change from the No. 99 he'd worn since entering the league.

Andre Carter, Taylor's new defensive end partner, already wears No. 99 for the Redskins. Carter was willing to talk about a number swap, but Taylor didn't press the issue.

"I thought about it last night," Taylor said after his first practice Tuesday morning. "I talked to my wife and decided we'd let 99 stay in Miami and start a new chapter up here."

Taylor's last chapter in Miami was a dramatic one. He appeared on the TV show "Dancing With the Stars" this offseason and did not participate in Dolphins workouts. There appeared to be a rift between Taylor and the Miami management.

Taylor played down those difficulties in his first press conference as the newest member of the Redskins on Monday.

"From my point of view there was no animosity, no hard feelings," he said.

Regardless, now Taylor is in Washington with a new number and a fresh start.

Taylor on 55

NFL.com Video

Jim Zorn and Jason Taylor address the DE's decision to wear No. 55 as a Washington Redskin.

The No. 55 is normally reserved for a linebacker, and Taylor is primarily a defensive end. But Taylor occasionally dropped back into a linebacker position in Miami, and he is listed as a linebacker-defensive end on the Redskins' roster. It's not the first time Taylor suited up as No. 55 -- he wore No. 33 at the University of Akron, but was No. 55 in the 1997 Senior Bowl.

Taylor was sporting one visible remnant of his Dolphin tenure Tuesday; his white cleats were spiced with Dolphin-orange stripes that clashed with the Redskin uniform. It wasn't nostalgia that caused Taylor to bring his shoes from Miami. He just didn't have time to get new ones between Sunday's trade and Tuesday's practice.

"Nike is great, but they're not that fast," Taylor said.

The jersey was just one of the changes Taylor needed to adapt to after the trade. When he arrived at the Redskins' training camp facility for practice Tuesday morning, he didn't even know where the locker room was located.

His teammates were another mystery. Taylor flew in to join the team Monday, but barely had time to introduce himself in a team meeting that night. At breakfast Tuesday morning, unfamiliar faces sat at the tables. Taylor recognized offensive lineman Todd Wade, who played four seasons in Miami, and found a seat next to him.

"It's kind of like being a rookie," Taylor said. "But I'm not buying doughnuts or carrying anybody's pads. I'm still one of the old guys around here."

The Redskins were also taking advantage of the opportunity to meet their new teammate.

"It's all a bonding time," Carter said. "Everybody is welcoming him with open arms, and it's just great to have him."

On the field, Carter said he asked Taylor for pass-rushing tips. Off the field, Carter asked him about "Dancing With the Stars." It was just one of several "Dancing" references Taylor heard throughout the day.

"If they're messing with you, it means they like you and respect you," Taylor said.

Taylor's first practice with the team was uneventful. He participated in individual drills during a rain-shortened morning session but did not join in when the team started pitting offense versus defense. Instead, Taylor stayed close to defensive coordinator Greg Blache and listening to the defensive calls. In the day's afternoon session, Taylor did get some work in the full-squad 11-on-11 drills.

Taylor totaled 117 sacks -- best among active players -- as No. 99 for the Dolphins. The Redskins believe that dominance will continue even though the number has changed.

"People are going to know who No. 55 is real soon," quarterback Jason Campbell said.

Notes
The Washington Redskins placed defensive ends Phillip Daniels and Alex Buzbee on injured reserve on Tuesday, and signed defensive lineman J.T. Mapu.

Daniels and Buzbee both suffered season-ending injuries Sunday on the first day of Redskins training camp. Daniels, who started 15 games last season, tore the ACL in his left knee during the first practice of training camp. Buzbee ruptured his Achilles tendon in Sunday's afternoon practice.

The Redskins had originally signed Mapu as an undrafted free agent in May and released him on June 24.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press