- Michael C. Wright, ESPN Staff Writer
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BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- New Chicago Bears defensive tackle Brian Price attended his first practice Saturday as a spectator after passing the club’s physical the day before, and stressed his new situation came at an ideal time.
“A brand new beginning, a fresh start,” Price said. “It doesn’t get any better than this. That’s what I needed. Watching practice, it was hard to watch and not be a part of it. Just the tempo, watching the guys; I’m happy to be a part of it.”
A second-round pick by Tampa Bay in 2010 out of UCLA, Price played in 20 games with 14 starts over two seasons with the Bucs. But injuries and serious personal issues played nearly derailed a promising career, leading to Tampa Bay trading Price to the Bears on Thursday for a seventh-round pick.
According to reports, Price suffered a leg injury Thursday during a conditioning test for the Buccaneers and wasn’t able to finish, raising concerns about his health and level of conditioning. Price indicated the injury won’t hamper him long term.
“I just hurt my leg in my first run,” Price explained. “We had to run out of the three-point stance; just hurt myself. I’m sore, but I’m good.”
Plagued throughout his career with a chronic pelvic issue which has required surgery, Price also endured hamstring issues associated with the pelvis, which had been fractured. Personal issues complicated life on and off the field for Price. In May, his sister Bridget was killed in a hit-and-run car accident, leading Price to eventually suffer a breakdown that left him left him hospitalized from physical and mental exhaustion.
Price says he’s in a different place now, mentally and emotionally, and believes the move to Chicago plays somewhat of a role in that.
“Man, I’m here with this team and I’m feeling great,” he said. “A couple of months ago, it was nowhere near where I’m at now. Just being here, I feel better, like the weight of the world got lifted off my shoulders. I feel much better.”
Bears general manager Phil Emery and coach Lovie Smith consider Chicago to be an ideal place for Price to rebuild his career. Emery said Price is merely “a player that needs a new home.” Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli admitted the Bears are “anxious” to “see what he’s got.”
Apparently, that’s quite a bit, according to multiple personnel evaluators, who say Price possesses tremendous talent; enough ability in fact to potentially land a starting job at some point with the Bears.
After sitting out of practice on Saturday, Price will be eligible to join his new teammates on the field for workouts on Tuesday. Asked about similarities between the systems of the Bears and Bucs, Price said “I try not to think about it. It brings up some crazy things.”
In Chicago, however, “the love of the game is coming back to me,” Price said.