TAMPA - The Tampa Bay Buccaneers hoped rookie defensive tackle Brian Price would give their line enough depth to help stop opposing running backs and rush quarterbacks for years to come.
Apparently, they will have to wait for that to happen.
The Bucs announced they have placed Price, their second-round pick (35th overall) in the 2010 draft, on injured reserve tody due to a pelvic injury. Price missed Tampa Bay's past two games.
Price has been fighting injuries since the Bucs drafted him after selecting fellow defensive tackle Gerald McCoy with the third overall pick in the first round.
It seems like the Bucs aren't, or at least haven't to this point, giving the full story about the extent of Price's injury. At first it was something that was supposed to be week to week, now all of a sudden its season ending. Did he have surgery or something?
Either way I consider this a huge blow both for the team and for Price personally. Right now the only consistently decent interior pass rusher we have is Gerald McCoy. If he isn't getting pressure from inside nobody is. In Price the Bucs had a guy who could push the pocket back on pass rush and at times even beat a double team. And I'll be honest in saying that he may have shown more flash pass rushing inside than McCoy has to this point.
Also if Price is going to be the nosetackle of the future (not sure if that's the case) the best way for him to improve at one of the hardest positions on the defensive line is game reps. Yes practice gets guys better but until you see double teams and center reaches and scoop blocks at game speed week after week, you won't really get a good feel on how to play them. So if Price comes back fully healthy next year he will likely still be playing at a rookie level at nosetackle instead of being ready to take the leap forward most players make going into their second year.
Team wise it puts the Bucs in a tricky position every week of only having three defensive tackles available that know the playbook. So far they have gotten away with it because nobody has gotten hurt during the game and they haven't played a lot of snaps of goal line. But this past Sunday everyone had to be holding their breath when Ryan Sims went down momentarily because if he had been out an extended period of time then either McCoy and Roy Miller would have played the rest of the game with no breaks or a defensive end would have had to play some inside. That's not so bad on 3rd and long but potentially disasterous on 1st and 10. Especially if it's a team that runs the ball well.
The Bucs did trade for second year defensive end/defensive tackle Alex Magee a few weeks ago and just today signed rookie defensive tackle Al Woods out of LSU off of the Pittsburgh Steelers' practice squad, but I wouldn't expect either guy to be ready to play meaningful snaps for us for at least a few weeks if at all this year. And even then I doubt seriously they will be able to make the kind of impact Price had the potential to make when healthy and did make even while hurt.
Right now there's a lot of duct tape and rubberbands holding the team together with all the injuries and of course the suspension of Tanard Jackson. How well they play and how many games they win the rest of the season will likely be determined both by how many guys they can keep off the injury report.