|01.03.11 at 10:38 am ET|
But he was certainly a presence during the week, making his voice known loud and clear to a rookie who would be making his NFL debut on Sunday.
“Probably Deion,” an appreciative Price said. “He’s a good guy. He stayed in my ear all week, saying you need to do this, need to do that. ‘Stay focused, stay focused, play-in and play out. Don’t let your mind get off each and every play.’ That’s what I tried to do today.”
He found out during the week from the coaching staff that he would be active and possibly on the field for the start of the game. True to their words, the Patriots – who sat Wes Welker and Deion Branch for the season finale – started Price along with Brandon Tate and Julian Edelman.
“I knew fairly early on,” Price said. “I started taking more reps with the ones, started getting more comforetable and get on the same page with teh quarterbacks. I knew fairly on.
“I was anxious early on in the week but I had to calm myself down and let the game come. I think that’s what I did and let the game come to me.”
Price was targeted once by Tom Brady in the first half but didn’t catch a ball. His first NFL catch came on the first play of New England’s second drive of the third quarter. Brian Hoyer found him for a 17-yard gain out to the Patriots 32.
“It felt good,” Price said of his debut. “I miss it, to get back on the field and start competing against somebody else other than your team. I’m glad to be back out there and wanted to show them what I could do and why I’m here. I had fun.
What did the Patriots see in Price that inspired them to spend a third-round pick on the Ohio University product?
In his senior season in 2009 with the Bobcats, the 23-year-old started all 14 games and set a career high with 56 catches for 784 yards, while carrying the ball 11 times for 103 yards. His 149 career receptions set an Ohio record, while his 2,019 receiving yards ranked second in school history. Price also caught 14 balls against Wyoming, a school record.
On Sunday he showed that burst of speed that Patriots fans have become familiar with in names like Wes Welker and Edelman.
“Real important,” Price said of getting the chance to show off his moves. “Obviously, they drafted me here for a reason. They thought I some ability to play and so, this was my day to go out show my ability to the team and show that I can play at this kind of level and I think I did that.
“If you go out there and relax, play ball the way you’ve always been playing, it’s still just football. Just go out there, play and react and just have fun and that’s what I did today.”
Price finished with two more catches for 41 yards and was targeted in the game four times – and the hope that his future is a bright one in New England.
|01.03.11 at 9:09 am ET|
The Patriots closed out the regular season Sunday with a 38-7 win over the Dolphins, allowing several backups to get playing time in the rout. “I think we got what we wanted out of it,” Brady said. “A bunch of guys got opportunities to play. … It was really a great win.”
Brady noted the play of quarterback Brian Hoyer and receiver Taylor Price, who made big plays in the first games of the season, as well as receiver/punt returner Julian Edelman. “That’s what this team is made of,” Brady said. “It’s a bunch of guys who are trying to go out there and give everything they’ve got. And I think that’s what we’ve done, that’s what worked, and that’s what we’ll continue to do.”
Brady said he’s confident Hoyer could step in at any time for him. “He’s everything you’re looking for in a player,” Brady said. “He’s a perfect Patriot. He works his tail off, loves the game, is a student of the game. And he really performed well when he gets the opportunity, since the day that he’s gotten here. And I think he’s earned it. He’s going to be a great player in this league.”
Brady got his chance due to an injury to Drew Bledsoe, and Brady’s injury in 2008 opened the door for Matt Cassel to make a name for himself. This is not lost on Brady and Hoyer. “[Hoyer] could be the quarterback in the first quarter two weeks from now. You just never know,” Brady said. “And knock on wood as I say that, but that’s the way this game is. You never know when you’re going to get your opportunity. I certainly didn’t know when I was going to get my opportunity. And neither does Brian. But I know that I know that he’s prepared. And when he gets it, he’s going to do a great job with it.”
Responding to a joke about his car accident earlier this season, Brady said: “I still haven’t been through that intersection. I haven’t gone through. I’m avoiding it. Never again.”
Brady went on to discuss in more detail how players such as Edelman and Hoyer have been great students this season. “Both Julian and Brian, there’s a reason why they can go out like they did yesterday and play so well, because they’re prepared for the opportunity,” he said. “They practice so hard and they play hard and they work hard and they make a huge commitment to the team.
“I love the fact that I can be a mentor, I’ll you that. Because I learned from Drew, I learned from John Friesz. I learned from Jim Miller. I learned from Vinny Testaverde and Doug Flutie and Damon Huard and Matt Cassel. All those guys that I learned from, things that they do well and reasons why they’re successful, I take from all those guys. And I’m glad that Brian can look at me and say, ‘Man, these are some of the things that I want to do to be successful.’ Because that’s how you learn. You look around and you say, ‘Yup, these are the examples, and these are good examples and these are bad exempts.’ Julian’s got a great one to look up to in Wes Welker. Wes is such a great leader for that team.”
|01.03.11 at 9:01 am ET|
CBS Sports NFL analyst Boomer Esiason made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to talk about the Patriots and the NFL. To hear the interview, including Esiason’s thoughts on Brett Favre and his embarrassing final season, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Following the Patriots’ rout of the Dolphins on Sunday, Esiason said Tom Brady will get his vote for MVP. “I do believe he’s playing his best football of his career,” Esiason said. “Even the years that he won the Super Bowl and even the year they went 19-0 and went to the Super Bowl. To me, this was by far his best season, especially in the last six games. … Brady has been on another level since the Cleveland game.”
Added Esiason: “I would not be surprised if he wins the award going away, probably 95 to 5 percent of the votes [for Michael Vick].”
However, for Coach of the Year, Esiason said he’s likely to pass over Bill Belichick in favor of the coach of the Buccaneers. Said Esiason: “Raheem Morris, 10-6, they’re not in the playoffs, I’m leaning to him because they have the youngest team in football. They also have the lowest-paid team in football. They have a goofy ownership down there. I don’t know how he did it with Josh Freeman. It’s really been a remarkable season.
“Now, if you say NFL Executive fo the year, I don’t know if Bill Belichick qualifies for that. But I would think he would have to, given all the moves and all the decisions that he has made.”
Looking at the playoffs, Esiason pointed to a Patriots-Steelers rematch as the most appealing matchup. “That’s the one team I would worry about right now if I were the Patriots,” he said.
Asked his opinion of the Seahawks reaching the NFC playoffs despite a losing record, Esiason said: “I hate it.” Esiason said he would prefer to see two divisions (instead of four) in each conference and the playoffs expanded to eight teams, eliminating the first-round bye for the top two seeds.
|01.03.11 at 12:28 am ET|
With the Raiders capping their regular season with a 31-10 victory over the Chiefs in Kansas City, they became one of two teams to finish the season at 8-8. Their record means the Patriots, who received Oakland’s first-rounder in the Richard Seymour deal, will choose 17th overall.
The Raiders, along with the 8-8 Jaguars, are tied for the 17th-worst record. Luckily for the Patriots, one of the teams with a worse record than the Raiders, the 7-9 Seahawks, made the playoffs and will therefore choose no higher than 21st overall. Strength of schedule is the first tiebreaker for teams with identical records, and as a result, the Jaguars, whose opponents combined for a .453 winning percentage, qualify for the higher pick due to the .468 winning percentage of the Raiders’ opponents.
The Patriots also hold their own first round pick, as well as the Panthers’ second-round pick, which is No. 33 overall. The Pats flipped the 89th overall pick (Armanti Edwards) to Carolina in the 2010 draft for the aforementioned second-rounder. The Panthers, of course, finished with the worst record in the league at 2-14.
Given the trades of Randy Moss, Laurence Maroney and David Thomas (Thomas was traded to the Saints in September of 2009), as well as the trades for Deion Branch and Quinn Ojinnaka, the Patriots have two picks in each of the first three rounds, and one pick in rounds four through six.
|01.02.11 at 9:35 pm ET|
The NFL has announced that the Patriots first playoff game will be played Sunday, Jan. 16, at 4:30 p.m. The Patriots, who have home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs, will play the lowest seeded remaining team from wild-card weekend. Third-seeded Indianapolis will host the sixth-seeded Jets this Saturday at 8 p.m., while fourth-seeded Kansas City will host fifth-seeded Baltimore at 1 p.m. Sunday.
|01.02.11 at 8:42 pm ET|
FOXBORO — BenJarvus Green-Ellis was the last Patriots player to take the podium in the press room following Sunday’s 38-7 season-ending laugher over the Miami Dolphins. And that’s completely alright with the 25-year-old running back out of Ole Miss (via Indiana University).
As a matter of fact, it was entirely appropriate since the unheralded, soft-spoken running back never seeks attention in the Patriots locker room.
But what he sought all season was a 1,000-yard season. That quest was not for himself, mind you, but for the guys who made his breakout season possible: His offensive line.
“[None] of this would be possible without the offensive line, tight ends and everyone blocking and working hard in practice,” Green-Ellis said.
Coming into Sunday, Green-Ellis needed 72 yards to become the first Patriots runner since Corey Dillon in 2004 to hit 1,000 yards. s it turned out, about the only drama left entering the fourth quarter was when Green-Ellis was going to get his number.
Entering the final 15 minutes, he still needed four yards. He picked up two yards to the Dolphins’ 19. Now, two yards away, he took a hand-off from Brian Hoyer and ran off right guard for 10 yards to the Miami 9 and he had his first big career milestone.
“It’s not really an individual accomplishment,” Green-Ellis said. “For one person to say that they [got] 1,000 yards by themselves they would be lying to you. Everyone worked hard, like I said. Everyone comes to practice and works hard in practice Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and you know, it’s paying off for us.”
While Green-Ellis tried to deflect the credit for the accomplishment, his teammates were happy to thrust it back in his direction.
‘Yeah, we were aware, and that was something we wanted to get for Benny because he’s done a tremendous job and he got it on that last play,” Hoyer said. “I thought maybe he was going to score actually. They were all dropped back into coverage, and we handed it off to him, and he definitely got it, so we were just happy for him.’
With 1,008 yards for the season, he was immediately taken out of the game by Bill Belichick. His teammates all patted him on the helmet to congratulate him. But there was one more person who wanted his time with Green-Ellis, the coach himself. Belichick gave him a hearty hug.
After the game, Belichick praised Green-Ellis as someone whose performance helped the team win 14 games. Read the rest of this entry »
|01.02.11 at 6:39 pm ET|
FOXBORO — This time there was no dirty laundry to clean up.
Julian Edelman returned Brandon Fields‘ second-quarter punt 94 yards for a score, setting a new record for the longest punt return for a touchdown in Patriots history. The score put his team up, 24-0, before halftime and the Patriots went on to roll the Dolphins, 38-7, Sunday at Gillette Stadium.
Just four weeks earlier at snowy Soldier field, Edelman thought he had a TD on a 71-yard punt return and raced through the end zone in jubilation – only to realize that rookie Dane Fletcher had been flagged for holding, nullifying the return.
“I’m not going to lie,” Edelman smiled and admitted. “I was actually thinking about that. l was thinking I’m going to look like an idiot going up into the stands if there’s a flag out there. We didn’t fortunately and we got the touchdown finally.”
This time, the return set up perfectly with the Patriots holding their blocks legally after Fields booted a booming 61-yard punt to the Patriots’ 29.
“It was late in the half and we had a “middle” return called,” Edelman said. “The kicker, we knew we were going to get some chances this week with this punter because he was prone to out-kick his coverage. He gave us a shot.
“The middle of the field, our guys held them up real well and as a punt returner, you’re supposed to make at least one guy miss and we were fortunate enough to do that and guys held on their blocks and we executed the play. It was a good play.”
The return broke the record previously held by Mike Haynes when he returned a punt 89 yards for a TD in his rookie season of 1976.
“I knew once when I was pressing back and I was going to put my foot on the ground and cut back I knew we were going to hit the house right there,” Edelman said.
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