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Tuesday, November 8, 2011
No deep threat? O'Brien disagrees

By Chris Forsberg

AP Photo/Charles KrupaChad Ochocinco couldn't haul in this pass Sunday.
Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien took umbrage with the suggestion that New England doesn't boast a pure deep threat in its receiver corps this season, which has been cited as a reason for the team's struggles in recent weeks.

"I don't really agree with that," O'Brien said during conference calls Tuesday. "I think we have guys that can stretch the field. We have guys that are good vertical receivers and some that do a little bit of both... I don’t necessarily agree with that. I just think, again, we have do a better job of coaching, playing, and actually showing what we’re capable of doing. Hopefully we do that this week."

Leaning on the likes of Wes Welker and Deion Branch -- a duo that's more apt to thrive in the short to intermediate range -- some have lamented the lack of a Randy Moss-like target (2007 version, of course) on the outside who can make home run plays off deep throws from quarterback Tom Brady.

The Patriots produced a number of long plays from scrimmage early in the season, but most came off catch-and-runs, including Welker's 99-yard grab in the season-opener against Miami. Brady is partly to blame, having missed chances to hit the likes of Taylor Price (vs. Steelers) and Chad Ochocinco (vs. Giants) down the field when it appeared those receivers were open.

One week after noting he wanted to ramp up the role for Price, only to watch the second-year receiver land on the inactive list Sunday while still battling a hamstring issue, O'Brien said he felt bad for Price, but also clarified a desire to get numerous players involved in the offense moving forward.

"I was disappointed for [Price]; You can’t control injuries," said O'Brien. "He’s a good kid, works hard. Really, as it related to that question last week, I really would like to get a lot of people involved. We play a lot of guys each game and we go in with that thought process. Obviously, we take what defense gives us. So, like in this past game, Wes and [tight end] Rob [Gronkowski] had a bunch of catches. But hopefully in the next game, we can get more guys involved. So, it’s not just one guy, it’s trying to get a lot of guys involved."