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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Conflicting statements, actions regarding Bucs DT Brian Price's injury



It's becoming difficult to know exactly what's going on with the status of injured Bucs defensive tackle Brian Price.

Last week, things were pointing in the right direction for the 2010 second-round pick who is coming off a practically unheard of surgery to repair his fractured pelvic bone and re-attach both hamstrings to it. He was practicing in some full-contact drills and inching his way toward a return. On Sunday, coach Raheem Morris even said he expected Price to play on Thursday against the Patriots.

"We certainly think we're going to get (Gerald) McCoy and Price," Morris said in regard to this week's game.

Then came Monday, and now no one's sure what to think. Morris said Price is about a month away from being fully recovered and didn't sound half-full in his assessment.

"You've got those hamstrings ripped off the back of your bone, one at a time, and one took about nine months to heal and (the other one) is at about seven (months),'' Morris said.

"Hopefully, we can get him going in the right direction. You want him to be ready. You want to force him to be ready. But that's not the case for hamstrings or the healing process.''

Morris also backed off on his projection that Price would play this week. And, later, in the afternoon practice, Price went back to not participating in contact and was only a part of individual drills. Something else that can't be ignored is the fact that Price can't be the player he was until he drops some of the significant weight he's put on as a result of his inactivity over the past 10 months.

After hearing Morris' remarks and observing this situation over the past few weeks, a reporter's instinct says the Bucs maybe, possibly, arguably, rushed Price into action too quickly. Another possibility is that he had a setback in his recovery or maybe the Bucs have adjusted his timeline.

Perhaps none of that is true. But we would be remiss in not asking.

Price is understandably frustrated with the focus on his injury, and he won't be happy to read this particular piece. But he's a second-round pick in whom much money and hope is invested. That alone justifies the attention.

Besides, he's a wrecking ball of a player when healthy, something the Bucs are well aware of.

In late June, at the Bucs' player-only lockout workouts in Bradenton, Price seemed a long way from getting back on the field. He was brutally honest in his assessment, saying, among other things, "I'm not ready." Yet, exactly a month later, Price was on the field in training camp. General manager Mark Dominik offered an emphatic "no" at the start of camp when asked whether Price was a candidate for the Physically Unable to Perform List, and that raised many eyebrows among those who cover this team.

That option -- which would have allowed Price to work with the team but not practice -- is no longer available, so the hope is Price can work his way back and become a factor for a team that's counting on him.

But, right now, from the outside looking in, it's a bit difficult to tell whether that's a good bet for the Bucs.

[Last modified: Tuesday, August 16, 2011 12:11pm]


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