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Jawaan Taylor reacts to the Chiefs signing Donovan Smith

It appears that Kansas City’s high-profile free agent will stay on the right side — and he’s high on his new teammates.

Houston Texans v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by Courtney Culbreath/Getty Images

After signing a monster contract with the Kansas City Chiefs early in free agency. offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor appeared ready to transition to left tackle with his new team.

Even though he played on the right side during his four seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Chiefs hyped him as a replacement for last season’s left tackle Orlando Brown Jr., who signed with the Cincinnati Bengals in free agency.

But after the Chiefs signed former Tampa Bay Buccaneers left tackle Donovan Smith earlier this month, it looks like that won’t be the case.

Speaking after Thursday’s OTA practice, Taylor appeared high on the move to fortify the position with Smith.

“When I heard [Smith] was coming,” Taylor recalled, “I was glad to hear it. He’s a great player. I’ve been knowing him for years. We connect because we had the same offensive line coach: George Warhop. That’s how we knew about each other for the past few years.”

Warhop coached Smith in Tampa Bay from 2015-18 and Taylor in Jacksonville from 2019-21.

But Taylor believes the team’s success is more important than where he lines up.

“I’m just here to help the team win — wherever the team needs me,” he explained. “I told Coach Reid, ‘If you need me on the left, I’ll play the left. If they need me on the right, I’ll play the right.’ I feel like I’m athletic enough to do either one. So wherever the team needs me, I’m there.”

After spending part of the offseason preparing to switch sides, Taylor believes he can be an option should a need arise — even during a game.

“Definitely,” the former Florida Gator declared. “Especially learning the offense now and learning the system, I’ll be ready.”

Backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert — who was Smith’s teammate in Tampa Bay during the past three seasons — is very high on Kansas City’s new tackle.

“[He’s] extremely gifted,” the 11-year veteran said of Smith on Thursday. “One of the most athletic, physically gifted left tackles that I’ve seen in... going on 13 years now.”

Gabbert said that when he learned Smith was coming to Kansas City, he immediately went to quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

“I was like, ‘He’s going to help this team a lot. He’s going to help solidify the front.’ With JT and Donny on the edges and our interior guys, that’s got to be [one of] the best — if not the best — offensive line in the NFL.”

NFL: DEC 26 Buccaneers at Lions Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Taylor argued that the quality goes even beyond the five starting offensive linemen.

“We have a very good o-line room,” he claimed. “Not just the five with the ones, but also the rest of the guys are a very good group.”

Their ceiling likely depends on whether Smith can rebound from last season’s elbow injury, which limited his effectiveness and eventually ended his season. But Gabbert appeared unconcerned about it.

“Injuries are part of the game,” he explained, “and sometimes they’re hard to play through. Donny’s an extremely tough player. As you guys know, he’s been one of the most durable offensive linemen through the first eight [or] nine years [of] his career.

“He got nicked up last year. It was a down year. I know he’s going to want to play well this year — and he’s going to play well. He’s a great friend and a great football player.”

Chiefs head coach Andy Reid appears to be pleased with what he has seen from his tackle new so far — with his customary warning of drawing conclusions from non-contact practices.

NFL: JUN 08 Kansas City Chiefs OTA Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

“This is all pass game,” Reid reminded reporters about OTAs. “There’s no run game — and then the defensive line pulls off once they get up the field. But [Smith and Taylor] are smart guys. They’re taking good sets and doing the things that they’re supposed to do. You can tell they’ve played before. They’re handling themselves right: digging in on the new protections and the snap count in itself — and all those things — to make sure they’re ready when we get up to training camp.”

Two weeks ago, Smith spoke to reporters from the Chiefs’ first open-look practice of the offseason. He expressed confidence he would have little difficulty with Reid’s notoriously difficult training camp. Taylor, however, is taking a more measured approach after speaking with his new teammates about it.

“Just be in shape,” he said of the advice he’s received. “That’s really it... We’ve heard it’s hard — but we’ve definitely got to make sure we show up in shape and ready to go.”

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