Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris apologized Monday for the language he used on Sunday while explaining his decision to kick a player off the field, but stood by his decision.
Morris sent second-year DT Brian Price to the locker room after an unnecessary roughness penalty against Price negated a sack on the last play of the third quarter of the 38-19 loss to the Carolina Panthers.
Morris blurted out an expletive during his post-game news conference, but suggested on Monday more such dismissals may be forthcoming.
"Until you take playing time away from these guys, they won't get it,'' Morris said. "We've got to figure out a way to be smarter. We have to figure out a way to be more consistent and you've got to get your point across.''
Price was not available for comment after the game on Sunday and was not among the players available during the media's open locker room session at One Buc Place on Monday.
Price's agent told The Tampa Tribune on Monday he spoke to his client after the incident and said Price was remorseful for the penalty and the position in which it put his team.
"From the minute it happened there was nothing but regret and remorse for the foolishness of the penalty,'' said Chuck Price, who is not related to Brian Price. "Even if the action had gone past the referee and not been penalized, you put yourself in that situation and I know he feels terrible from a team standpoint that he did that."
Morris had a low tolerance for Price's actions because the issue of foolish penalties has been a topic of conversation inside the Bucs locker room for weeks, Morris said. He sees Price as one of his core players.
"Brian Price is a guy that I depend on and count on as somewhat of leader in that room,'' Morris said. "Brian Price is somebody that I expect so much from because he is probably one of our best D linemen that we have.''
They won't know for sure until at least Wednesday, but the Bucs are hopeful QB Josh Freeman will be back for this week's game against the Jaguars in Jacksonville.
Freeman missed Sunday's game because of a sore right throwing shoulder, snapping a string of 36 consecutive starts. The Bucs will remain cautious, but think he'll be able to play this week.
"Obviously we've got to see him throw," Morris said. "We've got to get him out there and let him move his arm around and see what the pain tolerance is and all those types of things.''
The Bucs also hope to have CB Aqib Talib back on Sunday. Talib left the Panthers game in the first quarter after re-injuring a hamstring strain.
"Everybody in the league is fighting through something, so I'm no different than anybody else,'' Talib said. "It's still in there, and you can play with it until you make a certain move with it, but it's good. I should be right back.''
Youth will be served
The Bucs took a brief look at RB Mossis Madu during their loss to the Panthers and will look further and Madu and other untested players in the final four weeks of the regular season.
"It's time to go out and see guys like Madu and see what you have in (him),'' Morris said. "We got a chance to see a little bit of (CB) Anthony Gaitor, too, so people are getting an opportunity to play. Some of those are coming because of injuries, some are coming because (the players earned it) in practice.
"These young guys are going to get their opportunities right now and it's time to check them out and evaluate them.''