Vikings’ Price taking big-picture view

Jabari Price says he learned from his off-field incident, but he’s also taking a broader view of learning on the field. (Photo: Kevin Brown/Viking Update)

Last year was not the best of seasons for Minnesota Vikings cornerback Jabari Price. He felt as though he wasn’t able to make a big impact on the field with his teammates and he also was charged with a suspicion of DUI – he later plead guilty to a reduced sentence of careless driving. But that mistake has now come full circle as he must serve a two-game suspension at the start of the regular season.

He is now looking to turn things around this season and become a new man for himself and his teammates. To begin that change, he felt it was appropriate to come into the season with a new image, so he changed his number from 39 to 25.

“I wanted to make a change,” he said. “Last year I didn’t feel as good as far as playing. I wanted to take the extra step as far as being a member of this team. I made a mistake off the field, and along with that mistake I feel like I contributed but I don’t think I contributed enough. I wanted to come in this year with a new identity and bring something new to the table.”

The number is not the only thing different about Price at the 2015 training camp, though. He has come in this offseason with a better understanding of head coach Mike Zimmer’s defense and feels as though he is much improved.

Zimmer has always talked about wanting his players to understand the role of every position on the field, not just their own. Price has taken that to heart and has begun to learn what everyone else on the defensive side of the ball is doing on every given play. That way he knows where he has help and when he can take more chances.

“I’m learning more than just my position – so as far as what the safety’s doing, what the linebacker’s doing and what the D-line’s doing – just to make my job much easier,” he said. “Just going the extra distance to be ready when the season comes around.”

This is a big change in mentality from where he was a year ago entering the NFL as a rookie. He just felt overwhelmed by everything he was learning last year and his main focus was not making any bone-headed mistakes. Now he is more relaxed because he understands the schemes being taught to him and is more comfortable in the defense.

“As a rookie I had a lot coming at me as far as special teams, corner and nickel,” Price said. “So I was just worried about my position and not trying to mess up. This year, I’m trying to go the extra distance and make the team better and make myself better. Being more valuable than just worrying about my one in 11. Learning about the team is going to make me a better player, I think.”

So far this training camp, the Vikings coaching staff has been using Price in both the slot and playing as the outside corner. When asked if he prefers one or the other, he simply said he is comfortable in both roles and learning one also makes him better at the other.

“I feel comfortable at both,” he said. “I know what both jobs are doing and it’s just that much easier. I know what the nickel’s going to do so I know I can do this. Or I know what the outside guy’s doing so I can do this. So it makes my job a heck of a lot easier and it doesn’t matter. Wherever the coach puts me I’m going to play, and I’m going to play to the best of my ability.”

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