AP Photo/Stew Milne
Patriots second-year wide receiver Taylor Price and coach Bill Belichick.What's keeping Patriots second-year wide receiver Taylor Price off the field? Offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien didn't offer many hints during Tuesday's conference call with the New England media.
O'Brien expressed a desire to get multiple bodies involved in the No. 3 receiving role behind Wes Welker and Deion Branch. With underperforming Chad Ochocinco out Sunday against the Eagles due to a hamstring issue, it seemed like the ideal time for Price, who has battled his own hamstring ailments, to step up, but he didn't even play a snap. Welker, Branch, and the team's tight ends accounted for all of the catches in the game, with newly re-signed Tiquan Underwood dropping the only other target of the game.
"I just think, with all those guys at that position, it's how you practice, how you study, the opponent and our game plan, then being able to go out on the practice field and do it consistently every day," said O'Brien. "I think all those guys try to do that and try to be consistent and that’s why it’s been a pretty good position for us this year. Taylor is trying to fit into that position and he’s working at it and hopefully he’ll get there."
With the Patriots getting limited production from the No. 3 receiver spot this season, O'Brien spent nearly his entire call fielding questions on that role. He suggested he'd prefer multiple players step up and contribute as to allow more offensive diversity. But he wouldn't tip the team's hand in regards to who might get the most reps this week against the Colts.
"It's just something that we look at week-to-week," said O'Brien. "Now, as it relates to Indianapolis... we’ll see who’s ready to go on Wednesday when we go into practice tomorrow and start entering the game plan. It’s a week-to-week deal and this week it could be somebody different. It could be Taylor, it could be Ocho, it could be Tiquan [Underwood], it could be somebody you’ve never heard of. That’s kind of the beauty of what we do. At some point in time, hopefully every one of those guys will contribute to what we’re trying to get done."
As for what the team has liked out of Underwood. O'Brien noted: "He’s a tall guy that runs pretty well and he’s smart. He just adds to the intelligence at that position. The skill set that he has is pretty good, obviously, for that position. He just got here and we’ll keep working with him and see how he does."
One thing O'Brien did caution was reading too much into just receptions stats, noting the Patriots put an emphasis on players following their assignments, especially in regards to blocking assignments.