He watched Cuozzo drop back quickly, set up and throw, the ball arching deep downfield into the arms of a rookie flanker—who dropped it.
"He has the moves," Shaughnessy said. "I watch the footwork when I look at a quarterback. How fast he goes back, how he sets up, if he's balanced when he throws. This boy has all of it."
Cuozzo got most of it from watching Unitas.
"I patterned my drop-back on him," he said. "I wasn't getting back quick enough and I wasn't cocked to throw when I set up, so I watched movies of him. He takes choppy steps toward the end of the drop-back so that he can step up into the cup at the end and get his body as well as his arm into the throw. I tried it and it worked."
In the long scrimmages Cuozzo spends a good deal of his time handing off to the thickly built, rock-hard Taylor. Had his career not paralleled that of Jim Brown, Taylor probably would have been regarded during the last 10 years as the best back in pro football. He does not have Brown's breakaway speed, but he is the surest short-yardage ballcarrier in the business, a fact he demonstrated time and again in scrimmage as he banged away at the Saint line with all the ferocious impact and continuing drive that has marked his play in regular games. The young backs on the Saint roster, including Don McCall of USC and Les Kelley of Alabama, who show exceptional promise, watched him in awe.
"He shows you something," one of the youngsters said after Taylor had slanted off a block and plowed through tacklers for seven or eight yards, his legs churning in short, jolting steps. "See the way he moves off to the side? I mean, bim, bim, bim, three little skips and he's two yards over, and he's still got his legs under him ready to move out." He shook his head sadly. "A man's got a lot to learn up here," he said.
After the workout, Taylor lay on the bed in the second-floor dormitory room that he shared with Paul Hornung before Hornung, who came to the Saints from Green Bay in the veteran draft, announced his retirement. A chronic neck condition aggravated last season has resulted in damage to Hornung's spinal cord. On this afternoon he had just returned from a meticulous examination at the Mayo Clinic, and the report was not good. A similar neck injury could result in paralysis.
"That's it, baby," Hornung said, making a chopping motion with his right hand. "Cut it again and nothing from the chin down." (He was later examined by two other clinics, but the results were not positive enough to justify the risk of his playing for the Saints.)
"If we were to play the Packers," Hornung added, "maybe I'd come back for that game, no matter what the doctors say." He grinned, not unduly disturbed by the approaching end of his career. "It was good for a long time. It can't go on forever."
Taylor, lying flat on the bed with his eyes closed, grunted. "Season gets longer and longer," someone said, and he opened his eyes.