Price shows strides he's made at wideout

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Price shows strides he's made at wideout

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
FOXBORO - Opportunity seized.With Deion Branch, Wes Welker, Chad Ochocinco and Brandon Tate on ice Thursday night, Taylor Price heated up.The second-year wideout who was basically redshirted as a rookie (he played only in the season finale and caught three passes), had 5 catches for 105 yards and a touchdown in the rout of Jacksonville.What's the difference between August 2010 and August 2011?"Knowing the plays, knowing the system, knowing my teammates that much more," said Price. "I got a late start last year, which didn't really help. This lockout really helped me improve, knowing my playbook, staying in shape, just learning the game of football, really getting my head in the film and really just diving in, knowing what I'm supposed to do on every play, and how to practice and play."On his touchdown catch, Price showed how putting practice into a game situation helps.

"Its a baseline in-cut," Price said of the 11-yard score in the second quarter that made the score 13-6, New England. "Quarterback Brian Hoyer made the right read, put the ball in the spot and Ive got to get myself in the back of the end zone, tap the feet down and be ready to catch, squeeze the ball and drag the feet.

There was more to it than that. Hoyer's throw was behind Price who had to plant, open his body and reach behind himself to make the grab on his fingertips. It was a remarkable catch because the ball was probably a full six feet off target.

Price said that receivers coach Chad O'Shea works with the wideouts on catching bad balls and adjusting their bodies to them in frequent drills.

"Taylor had some good plays, made a couple good catches," Bill Belichick said in what amounts to a testimonial for the normally taciturn coach. "I thought that was a tough catch he made in the end zone for a touchdown. He had a couple run after catch plays down the sideline there on the hitch pattern when he broke a tackle there by the corner.
"But again, he's done some of those things in practice the last couple weeks, but it was good to see it happen in the game. I think hes been very competitive in practice in training camp this year. The year has made a big difference for him."

The hitch was a 50-yard hookup with rookie quarterback Ryan Mallett. Jammed between that catch and the touchdown was a 20-yard slant catch-and-run where Price again adjusted to a ball thrown behind him.

I know Ive got skills," said Price, who could challenge at any of the wideout spots for time. "I believe in myself. I know Ive got the talent to play at this level. Its just about going out there and showing these teammates, getting the trust of these teammates and the coaching staff and showing that I can play. Im going to keep doing that and Im going to keep getting better.

He's on his way to doing that.

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

Wednesday's Pats-Bills practice report: Jimmy G., Brissett both 'limited'

Wednesday's Pats-Bills practice report: Jimmy G., Brissett both 'limited'

FOXBORO -- The highly-anticipated first Patriots injury report of the week was released on Wednesday afternoon, and it was fairly predictable. 

Both injured quarterbacks were active but limited in their practice participation, the report indicated. That comes as little surprise as both Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder) and Jacoby Brissett (thumb) were spotted throwing passes early in Wednesday's practice. Neither appeared to be experiencing any significant discomfort as they made their warm-up throws. 

Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower (knee) and tight end Rob Gronkowski (hamstring) were also limited. Gronkowski admitted that the team was taking it slow with him in his first game back on the field last week -- he played just 14 snaps in New England's win over Houston -- but he said on Wednesday that he hoped to go "freakin' crazy" on the field soon.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
QB Jacoby Brissett (right thumb)
OT Marcus Cannon (calf)
G Jonathan Cooper (foot)
LB Jonathan Freeny (shoulder)
QB Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder)
TE Rob Gronkowski (hamstring)
LB Dont'a Hightower (knee)
CB Eric Rowe (ankle)

BUFFALO BILLS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
TE Charles Clay (knee)
OL Cyrus Kouandjio (ankle)
OL Patrick Lewis (knee)
WR Sammy Watkins (foot)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
DB Colt Anderson (foot)
DB Ronald Darby (hamstring)
QB Cardale Jones (right shoulder)
DB Jonathan Meeks (foot)
WR Greg Salas (groin)
DB Aaron Williams (ankle)
OL Cordy Glenn (ankle)

Garoppolo: Not pressured by Patriots to return last Thursday

Garoppolo: Not pressured by Patriots to return last Thursday

FOXBORO -- Jimmy Garoppolo spoke Wednesday for the first time since getting his shoulder separated by the Dolphins’ Kiko Alonso. Standing by his locker, Garoppolo was predictably vague about the status of his arm, unless you consider, “Getting better day by day,” as being insightful. 

The only two responses offered that were worth a damn came when asked if he could have done anything different when he got squished by Alonso while retreating and buying time.  

“Just have to be smart I guess,” said Garoppolo. “I mean, it’s football and stuff’s gonna happen like that, but have to be smart in those situations.”

Asked if he regretted holding the ball as long as he did on a third-down play with the Patriots up 21-0, Garoppolo replied, “After it’s all said and done it’s easy to say that, but it’s one of those things, you’re in the heat of the game. But bottom line I have to be smarter than that.”

Agreed.  

Meanwhile, as he worked last week to get back for Thursday night’s game against Houston, The Boston Herald reported that the Patriots were “putting pressure” on Garoppolo to be ready for the game. Working hard to get key players ready for upcoming games is standard operating procedure for a medical staff. Trying to force a player to perform is not. 

I asked Garoppolo if he felt unduly pressured. He replied, “No.”