BEREA, Ohio -- Phil Taylor stands out in a crowd at 6-foot-3 and 335 pounds. The Cleveland Browns' top draft pick is showing the potential to be a standout defensive tackle, too.
"He said, 'Good play, keep playing hard,' " Taylor said.
Taylor's play is welcome for a Cleveland team that has several players sidelined by injuries. Shurmur gave the squad a day off Saturday. It meant starting offensive lineman Eric Steinbach and running back Brandon Jackson didn't miss more time away from the field.
Shurmur doesn't know when either player might be back, saying Jackson will be out for an "extended period" with a toe injury. Steinbach has a disc problem in his back -- not a good sign for a 6-6, 295-pounder who has missed just three games in eight seasons and played every snap the past two seasons. Surgery likely would end his season.
But Taylor is fresh and eager to make an impact.
"I am just getting better in practice each week," he said. "It showed a lot more this week. I'm just doing the extra things in practice, and I got a lot better this game."
Shurmur stopped short of giving Taylor a perfect grade.
"There were some areas in the game where he needed to be a little more explosive and consistent," Shurmur said. "Generally, he's making steady progress, and that's good."
Taylor said he enjoyed his 14-yard sack and forced fumble on the Eagles' third play, but he agreed that an NFL defensive lineman can't just live on knocking down opponents.
"You have to use your hands a lot more at this level," Taylor said. "In college, you can get by with just bull rushing a guy and things like that. At this level, guys have more technique, so you have to use your hands better."
Taylor can make his presence felt even without getting sacks.
"If I am drawing a double team on every play and not getting tackles, then the linebackers should be making all the tackles," he said. "A good game for me is to just going out there and doing whatever I need to do for the team."
"He's helping me out a lot because he's a veteran," Taylor said. "In the game, he's just helping me out with things to look for from offensive linemen and things like that."
Shurmur said the pairing has potential.
"Rubin's one of those guys that goes hard all the time," the first-year coach said. "He's a true pro. For a young guy like Phil that's got so much ability, that's a good pair. They're working well together."
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press