I randomly bumped into Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Brian Price on Sunday (more on that later) and two things came to mind:
» Price is one quarter of what could end up being a fearsome, young defensive line the Bucs have assembled through the draft the last two seasons.
» Price is moving very well for someone who had surgery to put four screws into fractures in his pelvis, a good sign that he'll contribute to the aforementioned next season.
"I'm just lifting weights, not running yet, but I might be able to start," Prince said. "It just depends on how I feel."
How Price feels is one thing. How soon he should crank up his workload is another. Price has a high pain tolerance as he showed last season by playing through this injury that was sustained in a summer time mini-camp. The fractures weren't discovered until after the fifth game. For the longest time the issue seemed to be his hamstrings, but the tug from the cracks in his pelvis was the real culprit.
He was placed on injured reserve shortly after Week 5.
Price's desire to get going could trump his rehabilitation, which is why he's trying to be cautious during a lockout in which he's not under the care of Tampa Bay's trainers and doctors. He is rehabilitating in Tampa, a decision he made on the day the lockout was lifted and players could have contact with team employees.
Price had left his native Los Angeles and met with team officials and coaches before the lockout was reinstated. He is working out at a facility that works in conjunction with the Bucs so his status can be monitored. During that fleeting moment Price was able to meet with the team, Tampa Bay drafted defensive ends Adrian Clayborn and Da'Quan Bowers to team with Price, a second-round pick last season, and fellow defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, the No. 3 overall pick in 2010.
"I'm excited about that," Price said of the players added to the defensive front. "I was so happy. They had plans to get them, and they were pumped up when they got them. So was I. We can get pressure on the inside and outside. We just need to get this lockout lifted so we can get together and get some chemistry."
The Bucs had just 26 sacks last season, tied for second worst in the NFL. Ends Styles G. White and Geno Hayes combined for 8.5 sacks. McCoy had three. Price, zero. Tampa Bay has to get better in that regard if they want to fulfill the potential and expectations of a young, talented team. Their division, the NFC South, is among the toughest in the NFL, and based on the drafts the Saints, Falcons and Panthers had, it won't get any easier. Plus, the Buccaneers are a marked team now.
The potential of that defensive line is through the roof, but with Price coming off major surgery and Bowers dealing with a surgically repaired knee that some teams' medical staffs think could limit his longevity, there is no guarantee that things will ever fully develop. If they do, though, the Bucs could be something to deal with -- now and later.
"I'm going to be playing nose [tackle], and I'm excited about that," Price said. "I've never played nose so this is a new challenge. I got my mind set to be great. I'm going to fight through any pain and be a great teammate because I want to be great, and I want us to be great."
Now, back to that random encounter. I bumped into Price on an airplane while flying back from Kingston, Jamaica, where he watched his wife, Candice Davis, one of the top hurdlers in the U.S., place third in the 100 meter hurdles at the highly competitive Jamaica International Invitational track meet.
"I'm just glad to be a part of all this," he said.
Follow Steve Wyche on Twitter @wyche89