FOXBORO, Mass. — Based on the initial diagnosis, Patriots running back Fred Taylor sounds like a man who is overly grateful to still have an opportunity to play football this season.
Taylor, who practiced Wednesday for the first time since Sept. 24, suffered a turf toe injury on his left foot during a Week 3 victory against the Bills, and due to the damage to his joint, tendons, ligament and "a lot of other stuff," Taylor was told he'd need season-ending surgery.
He sought out toe specialists for second and third opinions and also got reexamined by the Patriots' team doctor before receiving the good word that he'd be able to avoid surgery and eventually return to the field.
"I'm just happy to be at the point that I am because the past six, seven weeks have been pretty frustrating, but I've got to just keep grinding it out," Taylor said.
"The initial prognosis was bad, to the point of tears, and all the other stuff that comes with it. But I'm here, and we'll see how it goes from this point."
Taylor revealed the injury was different from one he suffered in the season opener, which was a less-severe turf toe issue on his right foot. He said that was frustrating because it happened on the last play of the Patriots' victory against the Bengals. But, obviously, the second toe injury was far worse, and the long-term implications were more threatening.
Taylor wouldn?t tip his hand regarding his status for this weekend's game in Pittsburgh and wanted to caution people from overreacting to his return to practice. At the very least, it's a step in the right direction, and with the always-looming possibility of retirement, it's a significant landmark for a guy who might not have known if he'd ever take another NFL snap.
After spending so much time rehabbing an ankle injury last offseason, Taylor admitted he was "very, very, very, very" frustrated to have to overcome another hurdle. But, hey, that's life, Taylor said.
"Yeah, very frustrating, but that?s the sport we play," Taylor said. "What can you do, other than keep on digging in and trying to grind it out? That?s what I'm trying to do."