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DE Hart Finally Gets Chance To Play

Posted Aug 16, 2015

This afternoon, for the first time in 353 days, Taylor Hart will get to play in an actual football game. As a fifth-round pick last season, Hart sat on the sideline for every game of the regular season as part of a deep defensive line that stayed healthy throughout all of 2014. And after a year of learning about life in the NFL and reshaping his body, Hart now gets a chance to see just how much he's developed since the final game of the preseason last summer.

"I think everyone is excited," Hart said this week. "It's just another chance for us to do what we love, and I think it's going to be, you know, we enjoy it, to be able to go out there and finally play against someone else."
"We all have to kind of prove ourselves out there. Obviously this is another week we got to show this on film, during the games. You can look great in practice, but you also got to look great in the games. It's a big deal for everybody."

Last summer, Hart weighed 290 pounds. Nearly a year later, he's 310.

"Strength is a big aspect, and something that I wanted to do," Hart said. "As a team, we felt it would help my game. There's a big difference from last year.

"If I wasn't going to play then I was going to work out as hard as I could for this team and show them that I want to be here."

Hart's transformation has not been lost on the coaching staff.

"The thing about Taylor, he really reshaped his body and he is a good football player," said defensive coordinator Bill Davis. "He was at Oregon where he's a solid run defender and he's got enough of a pass rush to where it kind of sneaks up on you. I'm anxious to see the step that Taylor has made and see what he can do out there and when the bright lights are on."

Hart admits that spending his entire rookie season on the sidelines was difficult, though his trust in the coaching staff, including position coach Jerry Azzinaro with whom Hart spent three years at Oregon, helped keep Hart at ease.

"You just have to stay mentally strong," Hart said. "As a rookie you want to come out here and play or whatever, and for me it was believing in my coaches, believing in myself, just making sure that I was getting better so I wasn't falling behind or something. I think that was a big deal, and a lot of guys talked with and spoke with me. I thought it was great. This team helped me out."

Now, as he pushes for a playing time among the likes of Brandon Bair and Vinny Curry on the defensive line's second unit, Hart is eager to prove that he belongs on the field. Not just in the preseason, but come the regular season as well.

"The biggest difference (from last year to this year) is probably the confidence in my ability," Hart said. "I've worked hard, and I believe in what I can do."

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