Vincent Taylor and his family abruptly moved to Texas when Hurricane Katrina destroyed their home in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans.
From that horrible disruption when the levees broke on Aug. 29, 2005, a 10-year-old Taylor grew strong as he and his loved ones found a home in San Antonio and he found success at Madison High School.
“We lost everything and we had to start over,” said Taylor, who has a tattoo on his right forearm with an outline of the state of Louisiana, a star for New Orleans and the date that Katrina struck his hometown, ‘8-29-2005’ “From that tough time in my life, Katrina humbled me and made me who I am today. It’s been a long road, but it’s been a good one. It’s all about staying positive.”
Now, Taylor is back in Texas after signing a one-year, $2 million free agent deal with the Texans that includes $600,000 guaranteed with a $250,000 signing bonus. He’s determined to establish himself on a revamped 4-3 defense led by new defensive coordinator Lovie Smith.
“What really attracted me to the Texans is they were interested in me last year when I got let go by Buffalo before I went to Cleveland,” Taylor said. “To be able to come here with Lovie Smith, one of the greatest coaches and defensive coordinators to coach in this league, I’m really looking forward to learning from him. I feel like this is more my type of scheme: line up, attack and go.
“Football is a mindset. Line up against whoever’s in front of you and doing your job and doing it within the defense. At the end of the day, football is about what you’re going to do with the guy that’s in front of you. That’s how I look at it.”
At 6-foot-3, 311 pounds, Taylor provides a strong interior presence. He recorded 12 tackles with one quarterback hit in 15 games and one start last season for the Cleveland Browns after being claimed off waivers from the Buffalo Bills.
Taylor is putting in overtime, working with private defensive line coach Brandon Jordan alongside several of his teammates in Houston.
“It feels good, I think it helps all of us out,” Taylor said. “We get to compete. We get to learn from each other. It’s going pretty good. I normally train in Miami, but since I’m out here now, why not train with my teammates? It’s good. We get to talk about things and learn from each other and be on the same page.”
Taylor has 63 career tackles, seven for losses and one fumble recovery since being drafted in the sixth round out of Oklahoma State. In 2018 with the Dolphins, Taylor had 27 tackles, three for losses, and two sacks.
A former All-Big 12 selection who had seven sacks and 51 tackles as a junior before declaring early for the draft, Taylor joins a defensive line that has to replace J.J. Watt and is plugging in a lot of new personnel under new coach David Culley and new general manager Nick Caserio.
“It is a lot of guys on one-year contracts, so why not go out there and try to start this team over?” Taylor said. “It’s a brand-new team. Guys are on one-year contracts and trying to earn that second contract. Guys are working hard and buying in. For me, it’s a new team and I’m looking forward to it.”
Aaron Wilson has covered the NFL for 20 seasons, including the Texans, Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars. He has previously written for The Houston Chronicle and The Baltimore Sun. He’s on Twitter: @AaronWilson_NFL and Instagram: @aaronwilson7128.