Alontae Taylor can continue building his legacy knowing the proper number is now attached to it.
As a rookie, the New Orleans Saints defensive back wore the No. 27 on his jersey. He didn’t care at the time, simply grateful to be in the NFL. But entering his second season this year, he better weighed his options.
Taylor chose No. 1.
"One reason is the reason I do everything: for my grandma," Taylor said. "She passed in '09. She's the reason I do everything. Me and my cousin always say, 'one reason,’ so it's deeper than just a swagger and kind of looking good out there."
Another less-deep reason is that he has always worn a single digit. In high school, at Coffee County Central (Tennessee), he was No. 6 through all four years. Then, at the University of Tennessee, he was No. 6 in 2018 and No. 2 from 2019-221.
The Saints' No. 1 became available when wide receiver Marquez Callaway left for the Denver Broncos in the offseason.
"I feel like I belong now," he said. "I kind of feel like an older vet but not really an older vet. It’s just Year 2. But I feel like I can teach the young guys some stuff about the defense, so that's better."
Taylor isn’t done learning either. He’s being trusted with more responsibilities.
Normally an outside corner, Taylor has been working as a slot defender in the Saints’ nickel package during organized team activities.
"It's a big difference," Taylor said. "I'm talking like I'm out there making mistakes and kind of hard on myself right now about it. Because I wish that I could just get it right now, but it's just not happening. I’m just going to continue to watch tape, ask the coaches good questions and have guys help me out as well.
"I’m taking it one day at a time. It's just the second week of OTAs. I know by the time it really matters, I'll be where I need to be."
New Orleans has one more week of voluntary OTAs — this Monday through Thursday — before mandatory minicamp begins June 13-14.
Taylor noted Saints defensive coordinator Joe Woods prefers his corners know how to play both slot and outside. The big push for Taylor in unfamiliar territory could have also come from a lack of bodies.
Of the six cornerbacks listed on the 90-man roster, only two were present during workouts open to media. Taylor and Isaac Yiadom. Marshon Lattimore, Paulson Adebo, Bradley Roby and Lonnie Johnson Jr. were absent.
Regardless, Taylor is open to the change.
"At the end of the day, I'm still a corner," Taylor said. "I don't feel like I've shown that I can't play the position, but I don't think the coaches feel that way either. I feel like they're just trying to introduce me to something new and just kind of see what I can do with it. … I’m still competing for the outside corner job. That’s still my No. 1 priority."
Lattimore’s outside role is basically a given. The question is who will line up opposite of him. It’ll likely be either Taylor or Adebo, who’s in his third year.
Taylor, though, has already shown up to work.
"I just want everybody to know that I can be the next Marshon, if not a better Marshon," Taylor said. "But my own legacy, my own way."