Taylor wants to play, but choice isn't his

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Taylor wants to play, but choice isn't his

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com

Fred Taylor believes he's got two more seasons of NFL football in him. During a conversation with Tania Ganguli of the Florida Times-Union, Taylor said he's not sure if he wants to retire or not. Honestly, it's not going to entirely be his decision. It may not even be 50 percent his decision. Consider the economics players are about to face. The owners' final CBA proposal before the lockout featured a 2011 salary cap that was scaled back from 128 million in 2009 to just 114 million. Then consider what a player like Taylor is accustomed to making great cash - he was paid 3.55 million in salary in 2010-11 combined, all for a total of 106 carries. And he made close to 2 million in guaranteed money. When all is said and done, the 2011 salary cap will almost certainly go down. Given the choice between paying aninjury-plagued, 33-year-olda seven-figure salary or some promising young kid who'll toil for less than 500,000, teams are likely going to err on the side of the bargain. So Taylor's going to have to prepare himself for a serious haircut, one so drastic he may wonder what the heck he's playing for.It's a shamewedidn't get a chance to experience Taylor's salad daysas one of the NFL's most explosive backs here in New England. His performances would have put him in front of a mike, where his perceptiveness and ability to talk about the nuances of his profession made him an exceptional interview. Taylor had high praise for the Patriots organization - "The last two years I've had a great experience of being in New England, being with a great organization and learning what tradition is all about"- butadded that there were times in the past two seasons where he felt he was good to go but never got the call. "Ifelt like when things weren't getting done that maybe I could've been the one in there," he said. "And that's every player. If you don't feel that itch, that desire, that passion of wanting to be out there, then you're just wasting your time. There were moments I definitely said, 'Well I'm not tired, I've recovered, I got my wind back, why ain't I in the game?' I do understand in order to be successful you have to be fresh. I just figured it all out."

Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Branch on reduced role vs. Saints: "Ask Bill"

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Branch on reduced role vs. Saints: "Ask Bill"

FOXBORO - If Alan Branch is worried about his spot with the Patriots, he isn’t acting that way. A notorious slow starter, Branch played just six snaps in Sunday’s win at New Orleans. And to hear him talk, it’s business as usual.

“It’s not like you can practice 3 technique on a store clerk,” said Branch late Wednesday afternoon. When informed that he probably could if he wanted, Branch smiled and noted “you’d probably get arrested for that.”

All kidding aside, it was stark to see Branch’s ample behind stapled to the bench. He earned a two-year contract this offseason, and his presence on the interior has been critical to the defense’s success. But after getting pushed around a bit too often in that opening night loss to the Chiefs, Branch spent a lot more time watching then playing. Did he know that he wasn’t a big part of the plan?

“That’s another question you gotta ask Bill, man” said Branch. “That’s not something I can talk about.”

Branch has - at times - come off as nonchalant about the game. Wins, losses, big plays, no plays, none of it seems to change his demeanor. Knowing that, I asked him if he was frustrated by his lack of playing time.

“I mean every player wants to be on the field so it is what it is,” he responded. 

Does he think that he’ll be more involved Sunday against the Texans?

“I don’t know what they plan to do with me,” he said. “i just need to go in there and keep my head to the grindstone and work.”

That may be Bill Belichick’s plan: sitting the player to motivate him. It would also seem to be potentially the last resort, and with someone who clearly marches to the beat of his own drum, it’s unclear how he’ll respond.

Patriots-Texans practice report: Gronk sits out; Gilmore limited

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Patriots-Texans practice report: Gronk sits out; Gilmore limited

Wednesday's practice participation/injury report for Sunday's Patriots-Texans game:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
RB Rex Burkhead (ribs)
OT Marcus Cannon (ankle/concussion)
TE Rob Gronkowski (groin)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
WR Danny Amendola (concussion/knee)
WR Phillip Dorsett (knee)
CB Stephon Gilmore (groin)
LB Dont'a Hightower (knee)
WR Chris Hogan (knee)
LB Elandon Roberts (thumb)
CB Eric Rowe (groin)
WR Matthew Slater (hamstring)
DT Vincent Valentine (knee)

HOUSTON TEXANS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
G Jeff Allen (ankle)
CB Kevin Johnson (knee)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
TE Stephen Anderson (concussion)
RB Alfred Blue (ankle)
WR Will Fuller V (shoulder)
CB Jonathan Joseph (shoulder)
G Xavier Su'a-Filo (knee)
DE J.J. Watt (finger)

FULL PARTICIPATION
CB Marcus Burley (knee)
T Chris Clark (wrist)
WR Bruce Ellington (concussion)
TE Ryan Griffin (concussion)