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Deion Branch shows Taylor Price the ropes and Price proves he paid attention

01.03.11 at 10:38 am ET
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FOXBORO — Deion Branch was no where to be found in the Patriots locker room following the 38-7 thrashing of the Dolphins at Gillette Stadium.

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.

After being inactive for the first 16 weeks of his NFL career, the speedy Taylor Price finally got his shot for the Pats. Who helped him the most to get ready for his big chance?

“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.

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