FOXBORO, Mass. — Taylor Price has the right makeup to be a good wide receiver. He's a 6-foot, 212-pounder with blazing speed, sound strength and handy hands.
For Price to make an impact with the Patriots during his rookie season, though, he'll need to provide a worthy presence on special teams, too. New England's third-round pick in last month's NFL draft obviously hasn’t yet locked down a spot on the team's 53-man roster, so he will have to maximize his value in order to do so.
The Patriots most definitely need some help at the receiver position while Wes Welker recovers from knee and shoulder surgeries, and it seems likely that Welker could begin the 2010 season on the physically unable to perform list.
Randy Moss and Torry Holt are virtually guaranteed a roster spot, but neither will contribute on special teams. Sam Aiken, who was the Pats' special teams captain in 2009, and Julian Edelman are also prime candidates to make the 2010 squad, and both of them can contribute in each phase of the game.
That will leave one or two wide receiver spots between Price, David Patten, Brandon Tate, Matthew Slater and Isaiah Stanback, among a handful of long shots. Tate, a 2009 third-round selection, might hold the early advantage with Price because of the team's investment, as well as each player's athleticism and potential.
When it comes down to that last one or two roster positions, the more each candidate can do, the better.
"I think you have to earn respect playing special teams," said Price, who hardly played any special teams at Ohio. "[When] you come in as a rookie, you're going to have to play special teams. You've got to do it, do your job, make the most of it and do what you can."
Price has 4.3 speed, so he could be an asset as a kick returner, which was an area where the 2009 Patriots were as exciting as a water crisis. But he could also work as a gunner in coverage or as a blocker in kickoff returns. It's something head coach Bill Belichick has already envisioned.
"We’ll definitely look at him [on special teams]," Belichick said. "He’s a 6-foot receiver that runs well and showed a good competitive style of play. We’ll see how that goes. It will be an opportunity for any young player to get playing time, get on the field, possibly find his way onto the 45-man roster if they contribute on the kicking game. So that’s a big opportunity for all of them."
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