For four years, quarterback Tyrod Taylor tested his juke moves and showed off his big right arm against the Ravens defense in practice.
He would talk with defenders such as Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil and Ed Reed about when it would no longer be practice, when he would be facing them while wearing a different uniform. He just didn't know whose uniform it would be.
Last offseason, Taylor left Baltimore for a chance to become a starter in Buffalo. He won the job, played well, went to the Pro Bowl and got a lucrative contract extension. Now he's coming back this Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium. The long-anticipated day has arrived.
"We always used to talk about the day that I would get a chance to play against them, and it's here," Taylor said Wednesday.
"The reality was that I was going to leave Baltimore at some point or another. To come back as a starter was something that I hoped for and I got the opportunity to do so now. … For it to be live action, I'm happy for that and excited for it."
Taylor said he's not out to prove anything about himself to the Ravens. He said he always plays with a chip on his shoulder, and that will never go away.
After all, the Ravens are among the few who have long known just how talented Taylor is. It was just that he never had much of a chance to show everybody else until leaving.
After the Ravens drafted Taylor in the sixth round in 2011, he was buried behind Joe Flacco from 2011-2014. It wasn't until after Taylor left that Flacco injured his knee, missed his first start and required a backup.
Last offseason, Baltimore presented Taylor with an opportunity to stay as Flacco's backup, but Taylor yearned for a chance to prove himself as a starter. He got that shot in Buffalo. Taylor remembers talking to Head Coach John Harbaugh and Flacco before leaving.
"They knew I wanted an opportunity to get a chance to start, or just to compete, for a starting position," Taylor said. "I wouldn't turn that down and they wouldn't have wanted me to turn it down either. I'm happy with how things turned out."
"Everybody knows Tyrod is a heck of a quarterback and Baltimore never wanted to lose him, that's for sure," added Bills Head Coach Rex Ryan.
After beating out incumbent E.J. Manuel and free-agent addition Matt Cassell, Taylor broke out in his first season as the Bills' starter and ended up at the Pro Bowl in Hawaii.
In 14 starts, he threw for over 3,000 yards and finished with the NFL's sixth-best quarterback rating (99.4). It was better than league MVP Cam Newton. Taylor also posted the second-most rushing yards among quarterbacks (568), only trailing Newton by 68 yards.
That was enough to earn Taylor a six-year, $92 million contract extension this offseason. Looking from afar, the Ravens weren't surprised.
"I didn't have a doubt in the world that when he did [get a shot], he would make the most of it," Flacco said. "He's a good quarterback, and I think he's gained a lot of trust in that organization and all of the players around him."
Baltimore's defense won't be too surprised come Sunday either. While hardly anybody knew what Taylor was capable of before last season, the Ravens certainly did. Just like Taylor recalls practices against Baltimore's defense, the Ravens remember too.
"You think you have a sack or an angle, and he hits one move and he can outflank you quick," said linebacker C.J. Mosley, who faced Taylor as a rookie.
Mosley still remembers one juke move Taylor put on him in a practice two years ago. Mosley couldn't hit Taylor because quarterbacks are off-limits, but Mosley's not totally confident he would have brought him down regardless.
"If I would have dove, I think I would've got him," Mosley said. "But he definitely got by me with speed."
The Ravens allowed quarterbacks too much running room during the preseason. Detroit's Matthew Stafford ran twice for 15 yards and Indianapolis' Andrew Luck picked up a key first down with a scramble. Baltimore knows it will have to contain Taylor to beat him.
But Taylor's scrambling isn't the only problem. Ravens defenders said they more have to be concerned about Taylor buying time with his legs and looking to throw down the field rather than running.
"He's very elusive," Suggs said. "We had a lot of practice against him when he was here. With an athletic quarterback like that, he has the capability to extend plays. We accept the challenge."
Taylor isn't the only former Raven returning to Baltimore.
Ryan coached for 10 years in Baltimore and was the team's defensive coordinator for four (2005-2008). He helped foster the team's defensive attitude. Ryan will be on M&T Bank Stadium's other sideline for the third time since leaving. As the head coach of the New York Jets, Ryan left both times with losses.
"Some people will always be Ravens. Rex is one of them," Suggs said. "Unfortunately, he is going to be wearing a different color come Sunday, and we're going to have to treat him like so."
This offseason, Ryan nabbed another Raven. He hired future Hall of Famer Ed Reed as his assistant defensive backs coach. Ryan said he thinks Reed will be "big" in helping the Bills' offense prepare for Baltimore's defense, and added that he thinks Reed will be an NFL head coach within five years.
"It's going to be kind of weird to see Superman in street clothes," Suggs said of Reed. "I guess he's Clark Kent now."