ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) Long before quarterback Tyrod Taylor was labeled ''T-Mobile'' for his explosive dual-threat ability at Virginia Tech, the Buffalo Bills new starter picked up a different nickname in high school for his unflappable demeanor.
''We called him `Big Smooth,''' Bills receiver Percy Harvin recalled. ''He's always been that smooth guy. Not real talkative off the field, but once he got on the field, he was always one of the best athletes.''
Little has changed a decade later since Harvin first encountered Taylor as an opponent while the two grew up in Virginia's Hampton-Chesapeake Bay region.
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''It's kind of hard to get him rattled,'' Harvin said.
That was evident Wednesday, when Taylor had no difficulty containing his emotions while preparing to make his first NFL start in Buffalo's opener against Indianapolis on Sunday.
''Nah, I actually haven't really had a chance to sit back and think about how everything's going to play out,'' Taylor said. ''Trust me, I'm definitely excited. But I can't look too far ahead. It's only Wednesday.''
What's a few more days to wait for Taylor, who spent his first four NFL seasons barely getting a sniff of playing time as Joe Flacco's backup in Baltimore.
Taylor finally got his shot in Buffalo in March, when he signed a three-year contract in free agency.
He spent the offseason displaying his strong arm and explosive speed to win the No. 1 job ahead of former starter and 2013 first-round draft pick EJ Manuel, and journeyman Matt Cassel.
In three preseason games, Taylor went 24 or 31 for 236 yards without a touchdown or interception. He added 108 yards rushing on 11 carries and a touchdown.
''I think he won the job based off of everything,'' offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. ''He has the ability to play in the pocket, outside the pocket, command the huddle, and I love his preparation. So it's kind of like check, check, check, check.''
The only blank checkbox is NFL experience, which does not concern Roman.
''It's just a football game,'' he said. ''You chalk up the field wherever you want and go out and play. And I think that's what he'll do.''
Taylor proved that at high school in Hampton, where he was rated the nation's top dual-threat quarterback by Rivals.com.
In four seasons at Virginia Tech, Taylor set school records with 9,123 yards combined offense, 34 wins, and 23 touchdowns rushing by a quarterback. He also set a single-season record with 24 touchdowns passing in 2010, when Taylor was ACC player of the year.
The only real knock against Taylor is his size. At 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds, he's comparatively small by NFL standards - especially for a mobile quarterback who risks injury by exposing himself to being tackled.
In Buffalo, Taylor prepares to become the fourth quarterback to start a game since 2013, while attempting to settle a position that has been in flux since Hall of Famer Jim Kelly retired following the 1996 season.
Taylor credits the past four seasons working with Flacco and the Ravens' coaching staff as having prepared him for this opportunity.
''I definitely think I've grown as a football player. I've grown as a quarterback,'' he said. ''Some people say, the best way to go out there and learn is on the field. But in my case I didn't have the opportunity to do that. I had to learn a different way.''
Taylor has impressed his teammates with his knowledge of the Bills' extensive offensive playbook, his command in the huddle and play-making ability.
''He makes the good throws. He's very elusive and gets away from defenders. But he's smart. I mean, he demands respect in the huddle,'' running back LeSean McCoy said. ''I'm not surprised if he has a big game. I think a lot of people will feel like that. But I won't, because he's talented.''
Coach Rex Ryan wouldn't be surprised if Taylor experiences a few butterflies before the game Sunday.
''That's to be expected,'' Ryan said. ''But you go out and do it, kid, because he's cool. He's ready for this day.''
Taylor said he'll be able to handle it.
''Once the game comes, I'll be fired up,'' Taylor said. ''But up until then, it's work time.''
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