Found December 07, 2011 on Fox Sports Florida:
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TAMPA, Fla. -- It was something of a three-ring circus Wednesday morning at One Buc Place, with a trio of Tampa Bay players dealing with issues theyd just as soon not have to talk about any more. In the center ring, quarterback Josh Freeman held his weekly press conference to answer on-going questions about his injured shoulder. The gist: Hes making some progress after sitting out last weeks embarrassing 38-19 loss to Carolina, hoping to be ready for Sundays road game in Jacksonville. But he only threw the ball lightly in practice Wednesday, and hell be evaluated throughout the week before a decision is reached. In ring No. 2, tailback LeGarrette Blount faced a crowd of reporters at his locker and denied any wrongdoing in an assault charge that surfaced Tuesday afternoon. In my mind, I didnt do anything wrong at all, Blount said in response to allegations that he had directed two friends to beat a Tampa man following a minor traffic incident in September. Blount was not charged by Tampa police in the episode, and he referred specific questions about it Wednesday to his attorney. And, in ring No. 3, nose tackle Brian Price spoke with the media for the first time since head coach Raheem Morris had ordered him to go home in the midst of the Carolina game, following an unnecessary roughness call that negated a sack of Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. Price expressed his remorse over the episode and stressed how much he respects Morris and vowed to control himself better. Such is life for the 4-8 Bucs, a team thats lost six straight games and would love to find some good news to talk about for a change. They have a shot of generating something positive against a team thats in even worse shape, the 3-9 Jaguars, a team in disarray that was trounced Monday night 38-14 by the visiting San Diego Chargers. Getting Freeman back on the field would certainly help, given the shaky state of the banged-up Jacksonville secondary. And even though a win will do nothing to get the Bucs into the postseason, it would provide a much-needed boost in morale and change the conversation a bit. Blount, for one, seemed eager to put talk of his situation to rest. It stemmed from a situation on Sept. 11, following the Tampa Bay-Detroit season opener at Raymond James Stadium. According to details contained in the police report, Gary Holmer, 34, was driving his Toyota pickup truck -- accompanied by his girlfriend -- inside a parking garage when he clipped the side mirror of a Ford Expedition that was parked beside three men. Holmer explained to police that he didnt want to block traffic so he turned a corner, stopped and rolled down his window, at which point the Expedition raced around from behind and cut him off. In Holmers account, three men got out of the Expedition, with one of them reaching inside the pickup truck window and punching him in the eye, nose and jaw, while another jumped on the hood of the truck and smashed his windshield. Holmer identified Blount as the leader, directing the attack, though the police did not charge the star running back or accuse him of taking part directly. Holmer did not want to press charges, according to the report, and in a statement Tuesday said he only wanted to recover medical expenses and damages to the tune of 95,000. Blounts attorney countered that Blount is the target of a money grab due to his status as an NFL player, a charge Holmers attorney flatly denies. Wednesday, Blount told reporters, I cooperated with the cops when they came, I waited for two hours, two and a half hours for the cops to come. I cooperated with them then, and I had nothing do with the whole altercation. I didn't orchestrate anything. I didn't make any suggestions for anything to happen. That's just the whole situation." As for the matter being a distraction as he prepares to face Jacksonville, Blount replied, Nah. I mean it happened all the way back in September and its just coming up now. Ive been focusing on football since the whole incident. Asked whether he feels hes been treated fairly, Blount said, Like I said, it was months ago. Theres nothing that I can do about it now. The situation has re-occurred. Its not the first time Blount has found himself in the center of controversy, either. At Oregon, he was suspended for much of the 2009 season after sucker-punching a teammate following a season-opening loss. On Tuesday, Bucs communications director Jonathan Grella issued the following statement: LeGarrette Blount immediately informed the organization of this situation back in September. We have reviewed the incident report and spoken with the police. The Tampa Police Department confirmed that the case is closed." In his press briefing on Wednesday afternoon, Morris expressed confidence that Blount had done nothing wrong. That was a situation we knew about from the very beginning, even though its all coming out now, he said. We did our due diligence with (the Tampa Police Department). We did our due diligence amongst us. We did our due diligence with him. And everything came back clean. Weve got one of the better processes I believe in the National Football League set up now...and they did a nice job of addressing it early. Meanwhile, Price was anxious to move on from his own issue. It was like getting a whuppin from your dad, he said. I didnt really take it too personally. When you mess up, youre like, Man, I wonder what kind of whuppin Im gonna get or what kind of punishment. Hes my coach and I love him to death. I love playing for him and I love this team. "I just want to apologize to the owners, (GM) Mark Dominik and Raheem. I let my emotions get the best of me. I thought something else happened, but watching the film, I felt bad because I saw something else. Price, who was carted off the field two weeks ago with an ankle injury, explained that he thought a player had taken a shot at his ankle. He responded with a shove and drew a flag that gave the Panthers a first down, instead of facing third and long deep in their territory. I just reacted off of something I thought went wrong, but its all good -- were all on the same page, he said. Well try to go get this win this week. Price explained that he tries to play angry but has never drawn a personal foul before in the NFL and says he never had one at UCLA, either. Morris told the media on Monday he was particularly hard on Price because he views him as one of the team leaders and holds him to a high standard. I know guys look up to me, so I cant be doing that, he said. Were a young team and Im one of their leaders. His reaction when he was told to go home with the game in progress? "I was like, "Dang,' he said. "I know it was all emotions because we were losing and things were happening and third-down-and-long, I get a stupid penalty. Pretty selfish. I kind of knew I screwed up. I wasn't expecting it, but I kind of knew I was going to come out of the game. Added Morris: Thats part of being a head coach, whether youre considered a father figure, a brother figure, a mentor or whatever the case may be when you talk about young player. Hes certainly a young player, but hes one of our best players. And he certainly has to control those things rather than hurt his football team...For me, its more about teaching my guys, being disciplined with our guys and trying to teach them daily lessons. Me and Brian, we have a great relationship. He understood exactly what he did when he did it. He looked at me with a sorry look right then and there. And I looked at him with the go-home look. We understood what was going on. Thats why we can laugh at these things today because of our relationship.
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