Bengals rookie running back Rodney Anderson went through his first NFL practice Thursday, nearly four months since they took him out of Oklahoma in the sixth round. By his own count, he figures it was his first practice since a walk-through on Sept. 7, 2018, a day before tearing his ACL against UCLA. He went through only individual drills, but that was encouraging enough.
And among those delighted with the news are two of fans in Norman, Okla. They just happen to be the parents of Bengals head coach Zac Taylor.
"He's a great kid. A really great kid," said Sherwood Taylor, the former Oklahoma safety. "How did he look?"
Anderson and the elder Taylor met briefly in the Oklahoma weight room three years ago when the Norman chapter of the Fellowship of Christian athletes met the Sooners' FCA contingent. Sherwood Taylor wanted to make sure he spoke to Anderson because Anderson was recovering from a broken C-6 vertebrae in his neck and Taylor had suffered the same kind of broken neck nearly 40 years before for the Sooners.
"It was a very similar injury," Anderson said. "It was kind of cool to meet someone who had been pretty through the same thing that I had been through."
Taylor wanted to let Anderson know he'd be able to get back better than ever. He broke his neck in the fourth game of the season and was back for the big one, the Orange Bowl on New Year's Day, 1979, when the Sooners' re-paid Nebraska for their only loss of the season in a rare conference re-match. Anderson responded, too. He suffered the neck injury in 2016 pre-season camp, but returned to play in all 14 games in 2017 and rushed for 1,161 yards while scoring a combined 18 touchdowns rushing and receiving to help the Sooners to the New Year's Day Rose Bowl.
"I played my senior year without it bothering me," Taylor said. "Rodney came back a lot better than I ever did."