Things like that happen with rookies, but it would be surprising if Bill Belichick carried Price on the 2011 roster if he forecasts another 15 inactive games in his future.
Price will compete with Wes Welker, Deion Branch, Julian Edelman, Brandon Tate, Matthew Slater and Darnell Jenkins, among others, for five to seven spots.
Why He'll Make the Team
The 2010 third-round pick really looks the part of an NFL wide receiver. At 6 feet and 205 pounds, he's got a good frame, and he's also got 4.40 speed. Price had a good showing in training camp, and he looked more polished on the outside than Brandon Tate. After playing in Ohio's very run-heavy offense, though, Price was a little behind in the game, so he'll have to show that he benefited from his time away from the field. The 23-year-old also caught three passes for 41 yards in his only action, and that should boost his confidence and hunger as he enters his second camp.
Why He Might Not Make the Team
Tate and Edelman were far more valuable on special teams — Price wasn't used on special teams in college — and that's why they surpassed him on the depth chart. With their potential as returners, Price is going to have to prove that he's a much more advanced wide receiver in order to get on the field for game days. Even if he's only on par with Tate and Edelman in terms of receiving ability, the latter two will continue to earn the playing time due to their special teams importance. It could be a big hurdle for Price to jump.
Tate had a great start to the 2010 season, both as a receiver and kick returner, but his numbers dropped off considerably during the last dozen games. Building on the last point, if Price can really leapfrog Tate as a pure receiver, he'll have a pretty good opportunity to make the team. Otherwise, Belichick might try to sneak Price onto the practice squad and hope he isn't claimed by another team.
Every day through Aug. 1, Jeff Howe will spotlight one player who could potentially be on the Patriots' roster bubble.
Sunday, July 24: Wide receiver Matthew Slater
Tuesday, July 26: Wide receiver Brandon Tate