For the first time since the regular season started, the Minnesota Vikings’ 53-man roster has 53 players on it and Jabari Price is back competing for playing time in the defensive backfield.
Price returned from his two-game suspension and the Vikings didn’t have to make room for him on their 53-man roster because a spot remained open since the team placed center John Sullivan on injured reserve/designated for return mid-week before the regular-season opener.
“The last couple weeks have been really tough, watching at home, watching the games on television, watching us come up short against San Fran,” Price said Monday after he was officially reinstated to the team. “I didn’t think it was going to be difficult, but it hurts just sitting on my butt here in Eden Prairie and watching my team compete. It hurts, but by the grace of God I’m back now and I’m ready to help contribute to this team.”
Price’s suspension stemmed from an incident following the Vikings’ final game of the 2014 season when he was arrested for suspicion of DUI – he later pleaded guilty to a reduced sentence of careless driving.
Although he went through a full offseason, training camp and preseason with the team, Price hasn’t been able to practice for the last two weeks, although he could go through the routine of watching film, lifting weights and working out.
“I felt isolated. Being on the suspension list, you don’t even count on the 53-man roster. I felt isolated. I felt distanced,” he said. “Them supporting me means the world to me. That means a lot to me. I’m happy to be back. I just feel different coming back today knowing I’m a part of the team.”
However, no role is guaranteed to him. Head coach Mike Zimmer said he would have to see how Price performs in practice. Last year, Price played in only 46 snaps on defnese and the Vikings are deeper this year at cornerback.
“I’ve talked to Coach Zimmer already and we both understand what needs to be done,” Price said. “There’s never a safe moment when you’re in the NFL. This is the NFL, so I want to show Coach Zimmer and the rest of the staff and my teammates what I can do on any given part of the field – special teams, nickel defense, whatever it takes.”
“… Millions and millions of people would kill to be in my shoes and I understand that. I do. There’s not a second that goes by that I don’t understand that and I just want to make the most of my opportunity around here.”
That’s why Price was resolute he wouldn’t put himself in the position to be suspended again.
“I never in my life had to sit out a game because of disciplinary action,” he said. “I never want to do that again. That will never happen again.”