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Giants 90-man roster breakdown: Safety Cooper Taylor still a question mark

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In his third year, the Giants still don't really know what Taylor is.

Cooper Taylor makes a tackle during the 2014 Pro Football Hall of Fame Game.
Cooper Taylor makes a tackle during the 2014 Pro Football Hall of Fame Game.
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Coper Taylor has tantalized the New York Giants with his potential for two seasons. With an opening at safety can the oft-injured Taylor finally turn that potential into production? Let's look closer at Taylor as we continue our player-by-player profiles of the 90-man roster the Giants will bring to training camp in less than two weeks.

2014 Season in Review

Taylor was impressive during the 2014 preseason. He had 14 tackles in 104 defensive snaps, and a Pro Football Focus grade of +4.1 (+1.8 vs. the run, +1.6 vs. the pass). Unfortunately, the injury bug struck Taylor again last season. He suffered a foot injury and ended up on injured reserve. As a rookie in 2013, the fifth-round pick missed six games with shoulder and hamstring injuries and finished the year on IR.

2015 Season Outlook

Taylor has a chance to be an important player for the Giants ... if he can stay on the field. With second-year-man Nat Berhe sidelined by a calf injury, the 6-foot-4, 228-pound Taylor spent the spring taking first-team reps alongside Landon Collins. Taylor, Berhe, and perhaps newcomer Jeromy Miles and rookie Mykkele Thompson are likely competing for a spot alongside Collins. Odds are the choice comes down to Taylor or Berhe.

"I expect all of those guys to come in and compete like crazy and see who's the winner for the job," said GM Jerry Reese. "Whoever wins the job, that's up to Steve Spagnuolo and Coach Coughlin to figure out. I'm just trying to provide them with some good choices to choose from."

The Giants have always liked Taylor physical skills. He has deceptive speed and range for a player of his size. That size, of course, should also enable him to also function closer to the line of scrimmage and help in run support.

Safeties coach Dave Merritt assessed Taylor this way:

"Cooper is coming along well. Mentally, I never doubted Cooper would be able to pick up the defense. It is just now getting Cooper's body to move in the proper direction once he receives the call and allows himself to line up and just see what is happening in front of him," Merritt said. "The mental part, Cooper is fine, but it is now the physical part. We have to make sure the durability factor - he has to be durable for us because he has missed the past two seasons. Mentally, I am not concerned about him. Physically hoping that he will be able to step up and be durable for us."

In many ways, the 25-year-old Taylor is really still a rookie. He has played only five defensive snaps, missed all of last season and missed significant practice time in 2013. The Giants, though, need Taylor to play like a veteran. For that to happen, of course, Taylor actually needs to stay on the field for a change.