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Phil Taylor could miss entire Cleveland Browns 2012 season

BEREA, Ohio -- On a day of renewal and optimism in Cleveland, coach Pat Shurmur had to first dispense the bad news.

Moments after running back Trent Richardson, quarterback Brandon Weeden and the Browns' other rookies took the field under a cloudless sky to open a three-day minicamp, Shurmur announced that massive defensive tackle Phil Taylor would need surgery to repair a torn chest muscle and could miss the upcoming season.

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"It was just one of those things that happens," Shurmur said Friday. "It's unfortunate."

Taylor tore his left pectoral muscle while doing bench presses in the weight room on Thursday. His injury is potentially devastating injury for a Cleveland defense that ranked 30th in the league against the run last season.

Shurmur said Taylor will have surgery next week, when the team will have a better sense of how long they'll be without the 6-foot-3, 335-pounder.

With the opener against Philadelphia four months away, Shurmur didn't want to rule Taylor out for the season.

"It's too early to speculate," he said. "Typically with these surgeries, the rehab is months so I don't want to say exactly. I don't want to cancel him out for the year, no."

Typically, torn pectoral muscles take at least sixt months to heal. Browns inside linebacker D'Qwell Jackson missed most of two seasons after tearing his pectoral muscle on both sides. Jackson had two surgeries but bounced back and led Cleveland in tackles last season.

Taylor, the No. 21 overall pick last year, started all 16 games as a rookie. He finished with 59 tackles, four sacks and improved Cleveland's defensive front. The Browns selected Cincinnati defensive tackle John Hughes (third round) and Boise State's Billy Winn (sixth round) in the draft and may have enough depth to get by in the short term without him. But Taylor was viewed as one of the team's core players and his loss is just another obstacle for a franchise that has had just two winning seasons in the past 13 years.

Taylor was inside the team's training facility but wasn't available for comment. On his Twitter page, he wrote: "Just a bump in the road. Got (to) work hard and come back (hash)Strong."

Shurmur tried to put a positive spin on the injury.

"It provides opportunity for other guys to fill in," he said. "We never want to lose a player. Unfortunately, at this point, Phil has to deal with what professional athletes have to deal with sometime and that's going through a surgery, going through a rehab and then coming back stronger than ever. His mood is good, he understands it and we'll get him fixed up and get him back."

The injury cast some darkness over a day the Browns hope is the beginning of a new era.

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press

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