- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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CHESTNUT Hill, Mass. -- He zig-zagged through the orange cones at Alumni Stadium, cutting sharply to change direction multiple times before turning to catch the ball. Everything looked smooth.
Watching receiver Taylor Price during the Patriots' informal workout at Boston College on Thursday, one could see some of the reasons the team invested a 2010 third-round draft choice to select him -- he runs well, has solid hands, and good size (6-foot, 205 pounds).
Patriots followers didn't get much of a chance to see Price last year, as he was active for just the regular-season finale (3 catches, 41 yards). The hope this year is that he breaks through with more consistent playing time.
"It was basically a red-shirt year," Price said. "I'm just trying to take everything I learned, in the classroom and on the field, and work on my craft and get into the system and really be a player [in 2011]. I just want to be the best player I can possibly be, so whenever we get back to work, my body is ready to go and I can play right away."
To put himself in position to do so, Price has spent the majority of the offseason working out twice a day at a gym close to his Ohio home. He has focused on resistance-band training, with the goal to become more explosive, and has also taken up Yoga while running and honing his footwork at a local football field.
The result is that Price feels like he's improved his flexibility and become leaner. Combine that with a full year in the Patriots' offensive system -- he got behind the 8-ball early last year when he couldn't attend spring camps because Ohio had yet to graduate -- and the pieces are in place for him to potentially emerge.
"Just the many dimensions of the offense, the system as a whole, specific routes, and how I can fit into that type of offense," Price answered when asked the biggest thing he learned in his behind-the-scenes 2010. "I also saw the work ethic, and how to take care of yourself because your body is your business. This is our livelihood."
He said his first NFL season was about what he expected.
"I wanted to come in and play right away -- I was always on the field at [Ohio] -- but I took as much from that as I could," he said. "I was thankful for a spot on the team and that they still had faith in me."
The Patriots return their entire receiving corps from last season, with Deion Branch, Wes Welker, Brandon Tate and Julian Edelman topping the depth chart. Matthew Slater and Darnell Jenkins also take reps at the position. From a business perspective, Branch and Welker enter the final year of their contracts.
One of the hot topics surrounding the team this offseason was whether it needed more of a vertical threat. As for Price, he prides himself on being an "all-around" receiver -- with a focus on good route-running technique, speed to get down the field, and the ability to separate.
The last two days have given him the chance to show teammates how he's prepared himself this offseason.
"I've been working out, my mind is on football, and I really want to step on the field and be a player," he said. "I'm hungry."
23hMel Kiper Jr.
2dEric D. Williams