A Cleveland Browns defense that ranked 30th against the run in 2011 took a significant hit last week when defensive tackle Phil Taylor suffered a torn pectoral muscle during a weight-lifting session at the team's facility.
Taylor, the team's first-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, underwent surgery Wednesday at the Cleveland Clinic, and while his recovery time has been discussed in terms of months, not weeks, the club is expressing optimism that he is "going to have a significant impact on the team this season", Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer reports.
A team spokesman told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Taylor's surgery "went well," adding that the player is recovering at the Cleveland Clinic.
Taylor started all 16 games for the Browns last season, totaling 59 tackles and four sacks while playing nearly 70 percent of the team's defensive snaps.
With Taylor expected to be miss four to six months, the Browns could be looking for 2012 third-round pick John Hughes to start next to Ahtyba Rubin, with sixth-round pick Billy Winn likely to play a key role in the tackle rotation.
It also would not be a surprise if a veteran free agent were added to the roster. Possible additions include Aubrayo Franklin, Tommie Harris and Rocky Bernard, who spent six seasons (2003 to 2008) playing for Browns defensive line coach Dwaine Board with the Seattle Seahawks.