Analysis of Taylor Price release: Did the wide receiver lose the confidence game?
|12.03.11 at 5:38 pm ET|
The release of Taylor Price brings to an end a relatively forgettable year-plus in the Patriots system where the young receiver could never seem to mesh with the offense.
Price, a third-round pick in 2010 out of Ohio, was inactive for 15 of the 16 games last season, but did catch three passes for 41 yards in the regular-season finale against the Dolphins last season.
However, the 6-foot, 205-pound Price was unable to stay healthy at the start of the 2011 season (he was frequently dogged by a hamstring problem) and when he was healthy, he was unable to mesh with the offense. He was active for three games (18 snaps this season, according to Pro Football Focus) this season, had zero catches and was targeted just once in the passing game.
A month ago, it seemed like Price was poised for a bigger role in the offense. At least, that’s what offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien seemed to hint at on a conference call with reporters.
‘He’s practiced well. We need to get him in there more,’ O’Brien said of Price. ‘He’s done a good job in practice. He’s a guy that we’ve got to give him more reps in the game.’
For what it’s worth, Price never appeared to have the confidence or trust of the quarterback. Perhaps the final straw for Price — at least in my eyes — was when I asked Tom Brady last month how Price has evolved and grown as a wide receiver since he first arrived in New England. The quarterback answered with a lukewarm endorsement of the Ohio product, saying Price was ‘like any young player and veteran player.’
‘It’s about gaining the trust of your teammates and coaches so that you’re able to go out there and do it with confidence in the game,’ added Brady.
It’s not like Price was an integral part of the New England offense, but with those snaps now available there will be more opportunities for others in the passing game. It’s likely that Julian Edelman (if he continues to get snaps on the offensive side of the ball) could get more chances. In addition, Tiquan Underwood, Matthew Slater and — yes, I’ll say his name — Chad Ochocinco will get more opportunities at the wide receiver position.
The release of Price made room for offensive lineman Nick McDonald. With New England down to just one healthy center, McDonald provides depth at the position, and will serve as the backup for Ryan Wendell (who was added to the practice report this week with a calf problem, which has slowed by for a good chunk of the season).
McDonald, 6-foot-4 and 316 pounds, originally joined the Patriots practice squad on Sept. 5, 2011 after being released by the Green Bay Packers on Sept. 3. He was signed by Green Bay as a rookie free agent out of Grand Valley State on April 30, 2010. He was inactive for all 16 regular-season games and four postseason games with the Packers last season. (For more on McDonald, check out this piece by our man Mike Petraglia here.)