TAMPA Three days after coach Raheem Morris benched Brian Price because of a personal foul penalty, the second-year defensive tackle of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers apologized to club owners, management and Morris for losing his poise.
Price was flagged for unnecessary roughness on the final play of the third quarter in Sunday's 38-19 loss to Carolina, giving the Panthers a first down instead of a third-and-14 situation deep in their territory.
Price was promptly removed from the game by Morris and walked into the tunnel that leads to the Tampa Bay locker room at Raymond James Stadium.
"It's kind of like getting a whipping from your dad,'' Price said Wednesday. "You don't really take it too personal. He's my coach and I love him to death. I love playing for him and I love the team and I just want to apologize to the owners and (GM) Mark Dominik and Raheem. I let my emotions get the best of me.''
Price, a second-round pick in the 2010 draft, said it was the first time he had received a personal foul as a Buccaneer or in college at UCLA.
"Emotions are high and you try to play angry, being a Hulk out there, trying to destroy everything,'' he said. "I ended up self-destructing.''
Price retaliated after he mistakenly thought a Carolina player tried to go after his knees.
"Third-and-long and I get a stupid penalty … it's pretty selfish,'' Price said of his reaction when Morris literally told him to go home with a quarter still remaining. "I kind of knew I screwed up. You've got to be angry during the play, but after the play you've got to let it go.''
Word of Price's benching reached Jacksonville's Maurice Jones-Drew, a fellow UCLA alum who leads the NFL in rushing as the Jags prepare for Sunday's home matchup against Tampa Bay.
"Tell him (Morris) to take it easy on my boy, Brian Price,'' Jones-Drew said. "We're having a down year (6-7) at UCLA already and I don't want to have to hear my guy getting chewed out all the time. He's going through some trying times – UCLA's in the dark hour.''
CB Aqib Talib, who hurt his hamstring on the game's opening possession against Carolina, didn't participate in Wednesday's practice and is still undergoing tests to determine the extent of the injury.
DE Michael Bennett's groin strain has improved, but Morris said Da'Quan Bowers will start opposite fellow rookie Adrian Clayborn at Jacksonville.
"We'll let those guys compete,'' Morris said, referring to Bowers and Bennett, who leads Bucs linemen with 24 solo tackles. "The best thing that could happen for the Buccaneers right now is competition, two good players going out there and playing for time. That's what you want.''
Tampa Bay's six-game losing streak has robbed the Bucs of a key ingredient, according to LT Donald Penn.
"We want to get this bad taste out of our mouth,'' said Penn. "Everybody is a little down. We need to go out there and have a little more fun … that's what this game's all about.''
Penn found one positive in the club's current tailspin, pointing out the NFL's youngest roster is learning how to deal with adversity.
"When a season goes like this, that's when they start looking to make changes,'' Penn said. "You've got to make sure you're not one of those changes. It's hard to get 10 wins two years in a row and right now, our young guys are going through growing pains. I went through it when I was very young (2007) and we went to the playoffs with Jon Gruden. The next year, we lost our last four games.''
With rookie QB Blaine Gabbert struggling to complete more than half of his pass attempts, the Jags have scored only 13 offensive touchdowns in 12 games. …Bucs MLB Mason Foster tops all rookies with 58 tackles. …Jacksonville's defense, led by LBs Paul Posluszny and Daryl Smith, has forced 47 three-and-outs, second in the NFL to the Bengals (49).