Tyrod Taylor came into Thursday's preseason opener against Tampa Bay and the Ravens quickly put his legs to the test.
The offense ran designed quarterback runs on three of Taylor's first six plays, getting a chance to see what the speedy quarterback could do in game action. Option quarterbacks are all the rage in the NFL these days, and Taylor has extensive experience at running the option dating back to his college days at Virginia Tech.
So could the Ravens use Taylor more often as a change of pace in the regular season?
"Possibly," Taylor said with a smile after the preseason opener. "That's [Offensive Coordinator Jim] Caldwell's decision. I'm definitely open to running it. I definitely love it. It just gives the defense another thing to think about."
Taylor finished Thursday's game with five carries for 27 yards. He also went 13-of-23 passing for 154 yards and two touchdowns.
The third-year quarterback has the ability to effectively run the option, and he can completely change the offense when he comes into the game for starter Joe Flacco. The Ravens may take a close look at the option package during the preseason, and then decide if they want to carry it into regular-season games.
"We get the chance to get it on film, see how it looks and see how we can block it better, and see if it's beneficial to us in the long run," Taylor said.
Taylor came into the NFL as a sixth-round draft pick who was known for his skills as a dual-threat quarterback. He had more than 100 rushing attempts in each of his four college seasons, and finished his career at Virginia Tech with 501 carries for a school-record 1,940 yards and 23 touchdowns.
His opportunities in the NFL have been limited because Flacco hasn't missed a start in his entire career, and Taylor has primarily only played late in games when the outcome is already decided.
"Joe gets a lot of playing time in the regular season, so it's good any time I can get on the field, showcase my talent and show the guys what I can do," Taylor said.
The Ravens have toyed with using Taylor more often in past years, lining him up at receiver and even throwing his direction in a few instances. But part of the concern with inserting Taylor into the game as a running threat is putting the backup quarterback at risk of injury.
The Ravens have carried only two quarterbacks on the roster the last two years, so losing the backup to injury could potentially create a big problem if Flacco were to go down too.
"Obviously, we look at it and try to make certain we put him in the best possible position to demonstrate his talents and abilities," Caldwell said. "But nevertheless, we don't plan on getting him hurt. We try to keep down the number of times he gets hit and things of that nature, because he's not a running back – he's a quarterback. Taking as few hits as possible is extremely important for us."
The next few weeks are critical for Taylor, as he will likely get a majority of the reps during the preseason. He's proven the ability to run the option, and he could convince the Ravens to carry that package into the regular season.
"We've been experimenting a little bit," Caldwell said, "and we'll see how it goes."