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After change in Thanksgiving plans, Patrick Taylor ready for his Packers encore

Veteran running back happy to be back where everything started

RB Patrick Taylor
RB Patrick Taylor

GREEN BAY – The Thanksgiving plans were finalized…or so Patrick Taylor thought.

After six weeks on New England's practice squad, the third-year running back was arranging for his parents to fly to Foxborough, Mass., to celebrate the holiday with Taylor and his wife, Lauren, who just arrived the previous week.

With his week set, Taylor planned to enjoy the final day of the Patriots' bye week by watching his former team, the Packers, play the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday.

And then the second quarter happened.

First, Pro Bowl running back Aaron Jones was carted off with a knee injury. A few minutes later, rookie Emanuel Wilson followed Jones to the locker room with a shoulder injury.

Taylor hated to see his former teammates go down like that but quickly did the math. Their injuries left AJ Dillon as the only healthy active back on the Packers' roster, leading to Taylor telling his wife, "Hey, we might be going back to the Packers."

By halftime, Lauren's phone rang with a call from Taylor's agent, Chris Cabott.

"I didn't think it would happen so soon," Taylor said. "Literally two minutes, three minutes after I said that my agent called (my wife) … and she said, 'Hey, Chris is calling.' I looked at her and then she was like, 'Yeah, we're probably going back to the Green Bay Packers.'"

Less than 48 hours later, Taylor was back in his old locker inside Lambeau Field on Tuesday, as the Packers prepare for their Thanksgiving showdown with the Detroit Lions.

While Jones appears to have avoided long-term injury, the quick Thursday turnaround necessitated the Packers move fast to re-sign Taylor, whom Green Bay first signed as an undrafted free agent out of Memphis in 2020.

In 27 games, the 6-foot-2, 217-pound running back rushed for 151 yards and a touchdown on 44 carries with Green Bay. He also was a core player on Rich Bisaccia's special teams.

Taylor's first stint with the Packers came to an end last month when he was released after the team's Week 5 matchup with the Las Vegas Raiders. However, he kept all his Packers gear.

"You gotta be ready for your opportunity," Taylor said. "I'm a smart guy. I've been in this offense for four years, so it's not really hard for me to just pick it right back up. I think they're running the same general stuff that they were before I left, so it's pretty easy for me to pick it up."

The biggest challenge this week has been the moving part. While Taylor flew into Green Bay first thing Monday morning, his wife handled gathering the couple's dog and packing up their Foxborough apartment.

It's almost a carbon copy of what unfolded last month in Green Bay when Taylor signed with the Patriots after a successful workout. He still has several belongings in storage from his first stint in Green Bay.

Additionally, Taylor helped rearrange his parents' travel plans. Instead of Thanksgiving in Massachusetts, they're coming to Green Bay and then Detroit. Taylor takes it all in stride.

"I build my foundation in Christ, so in those chaos moments, I have joy in it, and I'm at peace," Taylor said. "I try to stay even-keeled through the highs and the lows. When I got cut, there were no lows. I was still high and confident in myself, and I caught on with the Patriots. I know I can play this game at a high level."

Taylor said one of the first teammates to welcome Taylor back was Dillon, the running back whom he'll spell against the Lions. The two running backs have grown close since arriving in Green Bay as members of the 2020 rookie class.

After closing out the 23-20 win over the Chargers on Sunday, Dillon heard Taylor might be coming back. He immediately grabbed his phone and texted Taylor, "See you soon."

"Great teammate, the guy's a professional and does things the right way," Dillon said. "You can't teach somebody our offense in a day. For him to have been here as long as he has, a lot of the stuff is kind of already second nature. He was only gone six weeks or whatever it was. He's still got a lot of it obviously locked in. Having him here to help out on a short week is big time."

Dillon and Taylor don't have much time to reminisce with a marquee matchup on the horizon against the NFC North-leading Lions, who claim the NFL's fifth-ranked run defense (89.5 yards per game).

As crazy as this season has been, Taylor is grateful for everything that's occurred. With fresh legs and a positive mindset, Taylor is now ready to do whatever is asked of him.

"I'm excited for the opportunity that I get here moving forward," Taylor said. "I always tell myself this: You're just an opportunity away from being a force in this league. I don't put any added pressure on myself. Just going out there and playing the game that I've been playing for 21 years and I'm going to have fun with it."

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