Fred Taylor returned to Alltel Stadium on Monday and he brought with him a hard body and a determined attitude.
The Jaguars star running back returned to Jacksonville from Miami to participate in a local football camp. Taylor worked out at Alltel Stadium this morning and pronounced himself in top shape for the start of training camp, which is to begin on July 29.
"I can honestly say this has been my best offseason ever. I know football. This is what God put me on this planet to do," said Taylor, who opted not to participate in voluntary team workouts this past spring. Instead, Taylor employed a personal trainer in a regimen that cost Taylor about $10,000, he said.
"I was 221 (pounds). I was quick, felt good, but I never wanted to be that light. I'm going to be playing at 226, 227 (pounds), as opposed to 234 in past years. I felt like I could run into people, but the burst wasn't always there," Taylor said. He said his weight was at 227 pounds on Monday.
Taylor's decision not to practice with the team this spring caused speculation of a rift between Taylor and Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio. Taylor denied there is tension.
"He's not (angry). His happiness should come from how I am when I return. I'm 30 now and I have to do things differently," Taylor said.
Last season, Taylor struggled from the effects of offseason knee surgery. It caused him to miss all of spring drills and most of training camp. He said the knee is no longer an issue.
"My knee is fine. I don't think it's an issue, but I had major knee surgery and there are days I have to double-ice it," Taylor said.
He remains sensitive to criticism and he wants to dismiss the rap of being a slow starter.
"My goal is to start fast," he said, referring to the Jaguars' tough opening month of the season, when the team will play Dallas and Pittsburgh at home and travel to Indianapolis and Washington
"I'm in the best shape I've ever been," Taylor said.