Patriots notebook

Price hoping to catch on

Second-year WR eyes bigger role

By Shalise Manza Young
Globe Staff / August 2, 2011

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FOXBOROUGH - The NFL doesn’t have redshirt seasons like in college football, but for all intents and purposes, last year was receiver Taylor Price’s redshirt season.

A little-known third-round pick by the Patriots out of Ohio University, Price was kept on the 53-man roster throughout his rookie season but was inactive for every contest but one: the regular-season finale.

Price said having to sit wasn’t easy, but he tried to make the most of the time - and if the early days of camp are an indication, he certainly did that.

“It definitely was frustrating, but I just tried to turn that into a positive in any way I could,’’ the 23-year-old said. “I tried to learn as much as I could and when I got my chance to step on the field I made sure I was ready and I knew my game plan and I knew what was going on so I could go out there and play fast and play football.’’

Price was Ohio University’s all-time leader in receptions with 149, but after drafting him, Patriots coach Bill Belichick pointed out that the Bobcats’ offense was an unsophisticated one, so it was clear early that Price would need time to learn the offense.

During his first NFL offseason, the 6-foot Price returned to his home state of Ohio, recruited a college teammate, quarterback Josh Febus, to throw to him, and spent as much time as he could preparing for this season. He studied the playbook, worked on his route-running, and improved his footwork. “Just working on my craft,’’ he said.

Price made the catch of the day Sunday, pulling in a touchdown pass from rookie Ryan Mallett on a play that went at least 60 yards.

It was the type of play veteran receiver Deion Branch loves to see from his teammate, whose locker is two down from his.

“The coaches are pushing him real hard and they should,’’ Branch said. “This guy has so much potential and I enjoy watching him do what he does on the football field. This guy, I think he’s going to be a tremendous player.’’

Branch pointed to Price’s combination of size and speed, but also touted his smarts. He said it’s just a matter of Price putting everything together.

Price sounds ready to do just that.

“I feel a little more comfortable out here, way more comfortable with the playbook,’’ he said. “The game is slowing down a lot more for me, and I’m just taking a deep breath and letting the game come to me.

“I think it’s going good so far, I’m just going to try to keep it up and keep making improvements to get better.’’

No light shed The Patriots didn’t offer any update on left tackle Matt Light.

League sources confirmed Sunday night that Light and the team agreed to a two-year contract, with financial terms not known.

Light, a 10-year veteran, had been an unrestricted free agent. The team drafted tackle Nate Solder in the first round out of Colorado, but he is still unsigned.

Light, the Patriots’ lead player representative, started all 16 games last season and was selected to the Pro Bowl for the third time.

Crompton cut The Patriots released quarterback Jonathan Crompton, who spent all of last season on the practice squad . . . Today’s practice will be from 1:30-4:30 p.m. on the fields behind Gillette Stadium. The team will practice inside Gillette tomorrow night. That event is for season ticket holders only and requires a ticket for admission.

Shalise Manza Young can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @shalisemyoung.

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