By the time Denver Broncos reserve tight end Jeb Putzier glanced to his left, it was too late. Washington Redskins rookie safety Sean Taylor was already all over the football, brushing Putzier aside and waltzing three yards into the end zone with his second interception of the game.
Taylor put a tumultuous past few months behind him in Washington's preseason opener, and was his team's best performer Monday in a 20-17 victory in the Hall of Fame game at Fawcett Stadium.
Taylor was selected with the fifth overall pick from the University of Miami because of his size (6 feet 2, 231 pounds), athleticism and football intellect, and he put all to use in this game. He also made an immediate case to be bumped up from the second team sooner rather than later. On an evening in which veterans on both teams bogged down with penalties, mistakes and sloppy plays, Taylor was sharp, aggressive and spirited.
Taylor picked off quarterback Matt Mauck shortly after entering the contest midway through the second quarter. Taylor read Mauck's pass to wide receiver Darius Watts, broke on the ball, spun around and caught it in the end zone in the second quarter with the Redskins trailing 6-3.
Taylor's instincts proved correct again early in the third quarter, when Mauck was under pressure in his end zone and had only Putzier as an outlet. Taylor was sprinting over to Putzier before the ball was thrown, and he hauled it in with ease.
Taylor refused to speak to reporters afterward, but other players had no problems talking about his performance.
"I told him, 'You've got to show me something today,' " linebacker LaVar Arrington said. "And he said, 'Don't even worry about it.' But I didn't know he was going to do something like that. Man, he made it look easy."
He spent the first quarter on the bench save for special teams duty -- Andre Lott was the starter at free safety -- and showed good speed on the first passing play he faced, covering a lot of ground on an incomplete pass.
On his second play he corralled running back Mike Anderson and tossed him out of bounds after a six-yard gain, and capped that series with his first interception.
Taylor was also easy to spot before the game, chatting with agent Drew Rosenhaus and running back Clinton Portis, his college teammate, on the field during warmups.
Taylor fired Rosenhaus as his agent two days after being drafted, took about three months to settle on new agents, then fired those men -- Jeff Moorad and Eugene Mato -- a week after signing a six-year deal worth a maximum of $40 million.
On the same day Taylor sent letters of dismissal to Moorad and Mato, Rosenhaus reappeared at Redskins Park and met with Taylor, who is expected to re-sign with Rosenhaus shortly.