Just when you thought things were really, really tight on the New Ship Schiano over there at One Buc Place, there's some disturbing accounts of an alleged incident that involved defensive tackle Brian Price and first-round pick Mark Barron.
The story on WalterFootball.com by Charlie Campbell cites the old reliable and anonymous "sources with the team," confirming that during one of the OTA sessions, shortly after Price returned from Los Angeles following the death of his sister, there was an incident in a team meeting where Price allegedly told Barron that he was sitting in Price's seat.
JoeBucsFan.com took a swim in the murky waters of this rumor and relayed this: "Price says something like 'get up,' Barron says something alone the lines of 'F-you,' and Price proceeds to punch him in the head."
Now, understand that the guys at JoeBucsFan come from the Tampa Tribune lineage that we have in common, so they're not about to throw up some reckless rumor against the wall to see if it sticks.
Given Price's state of mind following the horrible loss of a sister that he so loved, this certainly sounds like something that could have happened.
Perhaps it explains why Price has spent the rest of the offseason on his own back in Los Angeles. Grief is a process that doesn't run its cycle overnight. Given his age and close relationship with his sister, this has been a tough time for Price.
Apparently Barron was not seriously hurt, and his preseason performance has drawn rave reviews from the coaching staff. The guys at JoeBucsFan also made mention of Barron having more than his share of swagger, describing him this way: "Barron is rather Warren Sapp-like with his rookie attitude and has an alpha-dog style among his teammates."
Swagger and attitude is fine if you back it up with superb play, as Sapp did year after year on the Bucs' defensive line.
If this incident did happen as Campbell supposed it did, hopefully it was just one of those isolated fisticuffs that pop up now and then. One thing's for sure: Schiano won't put up with this sort of behavior from anyone.
Sure, there may have been extenuating circumstances with Price. Maybe Price didn't even know who Barron was.
The only thing that's a solid fact going into training camp is that Barron is the clear-cut starter at free safety, and Price is still a guy trying to make a comeback from his ongoing physical setbacks. The team needs both to perform at a high level if this defense is going to hold up in 2012.