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Patriots notebook

Price may be on rise

Receiver pushing for playing time

By Monique Walker
Globe Staff / November 2, 2011

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Wide receiver Taylor Price has played in just three games for the Patriots. He has three catches for 41 yards in a short career that dates only to 2010, but the Patriots believe he is ready to be a more active part of the offense.

Price missed the first three games of the season with a hamstring injury and was active for the next two but did not play. He made his 2011 debut against the Cowboys Oct. 16 but didn’t register a catch. He showed up again against the Steelers this past Sunday and was targeted once downfield in the 25-17 loss.

Price, who was drafted by the Patriots in the third round out of Ohio University last season, is progressing enough that it may be time for him to see more reps, according to offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien.

“He’s practiced well,’’ O’Brien said. “We need to get him in there more. He’s done a good job in practice. He’s a guy that we have to give him some more reps in the games.’’

As to how the Patriots plan to work Price in, that remains to be seen.

“We’re figuring all that out right now so you’ll see that on Sunday,’’ O’Brien said.

The Giants are up next as the Patriots attempt to bounce back from their second loss of the season. The Steelers used man coverage to clamp down the Patriots receivers and held Tom Brady to a season-low 198 passing yards.

Price used much of his rookie season to study the playbook and get adjusted to the system. He played in the regular-season finale against the Dolphins, then worked in the offseason in hopes of being ready for his second year.

The preseason was promising as Price started off with a stellar performance, but he faded as he battled injuries.

Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio said the team doesn’t put time restraints on a player.

“I don’t think with any player you really put a timetable about when they are going to play or when they are going to be ready,’’ Caserio said. “I think you look at the player individually and look at their individual skill set.

“You just have to evaluate some things and other opportunities, whether it’s a bowl game or a workout or a visit or whatever the case may be, and in the end, like you do with any player, you try to put the picture together of what you think the player’s strengths are and maybe some areas that he needs to improve on at some point.

“When a player gets into your program, it’s kind of a combination of things - when they get onto the field and what they do with those opportunities. Everybody learns and everybody improves at different stages and different levels.

“Taylor’s done a decent job in practice and has had some opportunities in the game. It’s a long season and we’ll see where it goes.’’

New signalman

Second-year linebacker Brandon Spikes wore the green dot for the first time in his career in the Pittsburgh game and received a vote of confidence from defensive captain Jerod Mayo on his ability to communicate calls to the defense. In Mayo’s absence, Gary Guyton and Spikes have relayed calls to the defense on game day. Coach Bill Belichick said Spikes handled the duties well. “It’s something that you have to work on every week, just understanding, getting the plays in, getting them communicated, making adjustments if you have to make them based on formation or the location of their personnel or sometimes they switch personnel - all those kind of things,’’ Belichick said. “It’s really a team thing, it’s not one guy. Communication involves somebody talking, somebody listening, and everybody understanding, whether it’s offense, defense, special teams, it doesn’t matter what it is. That’s what football is: Getting all 11 guys to do the right thing.’’

No surprise

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin wasn’t shocked by the onside kick Belichick called late in Sunday’s loss. In an interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio yesterday, Tomlin said he would have done the same thing. “It didn’t surprise me, quite frankly, at all,’’ Tomlin said. “Coach Belichick is a guy who has the courage of his convictions and he doesn’t necessarily care what other people think. And, based on the evidence that he was looking at, we hadn’t punted in the football game. I know that if I was in his position I would’ve done the same thing. I would have tried to get the ball just based on what had transpired in the stadium to that point. We had yet to punt offensively. He needed the ball. So he took an opportunity with something that he felt good about, of course, from an execution standpoint, which was the onside kick.’’

Monique Walker can be reached at mwalker@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @monwalker.

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