Ryan Nassib gets to pretend to be Tyrod Taylor as the scout team quarterback in Giants practices this week. He might be hoping for an opportunity to be like Taylor in other ways pretty soon.
Like Taylor, Nassib has spent the first few seasons of his career as the seldom-used backup behind a Super Bowl-winning quarterback. For Taylor his place was behind Joe Flacco in Baltimore, where he threw 35 passes in four years. Nassib, in his third year behind Eli Manning, has appeared in four games and thrown five passes.
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But on Sunday, Taylor will be starting.
"Every situation is different," Nassib said, admitting to not knowing anything but the general trajectory of Taylor's path from Baltimore's bench to Buffalo's starter. "Going into a situation like that where you have an opportunity to compete for a starting job where there's really no solid starter, it's huge for guys who have been backups and are looking for an opportunity to play."
That could be Nassib soon. His fate with the Giants was pretty much sealed when the team signed Manning to a massive extension before the start of this season. Barring an injury to Manning, he's their guy for the foreseeable future.
Nassib has one more year left on his rookie contract with the Giants and will then become a free agent. At that point, he might be lucky enough to find a situation similar to Taylor's.
Having backed up Manning could give Nassib a greater opportunity if teams believe that some of Eli's habits and preparations have rubbed off on his backup. That was a selling point for Taylor when he hit the market, having learned under Flacco all those years. No one really knew what he could do -- he hadn't played much other than in preseason games since coming out of Virginia Tech -- but in a quarterback-starved league having Flacco as a reference on his resume likely helped him land a spot on the Bills roster.
After that, it was up to him.
"I remember hearing there were three or four quarterbacks in camp [for the Bills] and any opportunity to be able to compete for a starting job is a great deal in this league," Nassib said of Taylor. "He's been playing good football and it's rightfully deserved. He came out of camp as the starter and was competing against some good guys so he really had to do a good job of separating himself."
All it took was an opportunity that backup quarterbacks just don't get when they are stuck behind established stars. Until, that is, they get unstuck.