Ryan Taylor didn't plan on making his NFL debut in his home state, but he's happy it's going to work out that way.
Taylor, who played at North Carolina and grew up in Winston-Salem, will play in his first NFL game Sunday with the Green Bay Packers against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium.
Taylor missed the Packers' opener, a 42-34 win against New Orleans, with a hip strain, but he expects to get on the field Sunday. Like he did at North Carolina, he will play on special teams for the Packers, covering kicks and blocking on punts and kickoffs. He'll also play at tight end.
One of five tight ends on Green Bay's 53-man roster, Taylor set a North Carolina record for tight ends with 36 catches last season.
"I'm just trying to get in where I fit in," said Taylor, the Packers' seventh-round pick in April's NFL draft.
Despite the crowd at tight end on the Packers' roster, including one of the best in the NFL in Jermichael Finley, Taylor felt good about his chances to make the team after a productive camp.
In the third preseason game, the one that's typically the most competitive in the NFL, he caught an 11-yard touchdown pass with 35 seconds left, and then the two-point conversion.
Taylor didn't make much of the two catches. He had five total in the preseason for 54 yards.
"That's what they pay you to do," he said. "I think the main reason I made the team is my ability on special teams."
He said he has lined up about 10 tickets for Sunday's game. He has been keeping an eye on the Tar Heels, too, especially on his former roommate, quarterback Bryn Renner.
"I'm proud to see him do some good things," Taylor said. "They have the ability to be a very good team."
Taylor enjoyed his first camp with the Super Bowl champs, as well as the celebrated status the Packers enjoy in the Green Bay community. Life in the Midwest is something of an adjustment, though.
"It was 37 degrees (on Wednesday)," Taylor said. "So it takes a little getting used to."
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