Article updated: 8/28/2012 8:13 PM
Big game for Bears' Price, who’s had a rough road
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By Bob LeGere
The Bears traded for former second-round pick Brian Price early in training camp, even though they knew the defensive tackle wasn’t in optimum shape — physically or mentally.
The 6-foot-1, 303-pound UCLA product is still dealing with the death of his sister Bridget, 30, who was killed by a hit-and-run driver in the spring, leaving two young boys without a mother.
“(I think about) being able to feed them,” Price said. “I just look at them and think about them and get more motivated, and it helps me get through what I’m going through.”
While growing up in Los Angeles, Price’s two older brothers were killed in gang-related shootings.
Physically, he’s working his way back from pelvis, hamstring and knee injuries. In his first days in camp with the Bears, he was clearly behind other players and struggled mightily to compete. He’s still struggling to show that he deserves a spot on the 53-man roster and may need an impact performance Thursday night at Cleveland to stick around.
“He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do,” coach Lovie Smith said. “We’ve seen him improve as a ballplayer. That normally helps your mental state. Brian’s one of the guys. They’ve opened their arms to him. He has made some plays. We’ve seen flashes of what we brought him for. This will be an important game for him.”
Price was brought in to provide depth behind Henry Melton, Stephen Paea and Matt Toeaina, but Jordan Miller and Nate Collins are hoping to fill the same role, and there may not be room for more than one of them.
“They know the talent is there,” Price said, “(I) just have to maximize it every day, and that’s what I’ve been doing, giving it my all. That’s all they ask for, but it’s easier said than done. I just know that every day I go out there I have the intentions to get better and better, which is pretty great.”
Kicking it around:
The Bears put in a waiver claim for punter Spencer Lanning, who was cut by the Browns, but the Jets blocked the potential move by claiming him earlier based on their inferior 2011 record.
Undrafted rookie Ryan Quigley will punt for the Bears on Thursday night in the final preseason game. He performed very well last week filling in for injured Adam Podlesh, who is rehabbing the hip flexor he injured in the second preseason game. Podlesh hopes to be back for the Sept. 9 opener, but that’s questionable.
At this point it seems likely that, at least for the first week, the Bears will have to carry two punters on the 53-man roster.
“I have no idea when he’ll be back,” coach Lovie Smith said of Podlesh. “He’s making progress. We’re seeing him do things. He can’t punt the ball right now, but we’re encouraged by his progress.”
Podlesh says the season opener is still realistic but far from a guarantee.
“Nobody has ruled that out yet,” he said. “It’s still a possibility. We’re going to be smart about how we get me back on the field.”
Lanning was in camp with the Bears last season and has also spent time with the Jaguars but has never punted in an NFL regular-season game.
Brian Urlacher wasn’t dressed for practice Tuesday, but he could be seen taking mental reps and making initial steps in the direction of the play.
“Brian is making a lot of progress,” coach Lovie Smith said afterward. “And just like we said all along, I expect to see No. 54 out on the field next week in practice and playing against the Colts.”
Tight end Kellen Davis missed Tuesday’s practice with an illness but has not been ruled out for Thursday’s game.