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Price’s injury: Bad break for Pitt

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Every time I write or hear about Ejuan Price — or see him perform at practice or in a game – I think about a conversation I had with former Pitt defensive coordinator Keith Patterson.
That walking-out-to-practice chat with Patterson came back to me Wednesday morning when Pitt reported that Price is lost for the season with a second pectoral injury. (This time to the left side — he missed the 2012 season with a right pec injury.)
I asked Patterson to name the best pass rusher he had coached, and he said, “Ask me that same question in about three years and I might say, `Ejuan Price is the best pass rusher I’ve coached.’ ”
It should be noted that Patterson coached former Steelers great Jason Gildon at Altus (Okla.) High School.
It’s now three years later, and Price will miss his second full season at Pitt. He was scheduled for pec surgery Wednesday.
Pitt officials reported that Price was injured this week during an informal workout.
Price, a Woodland Hills graduate, originally signed with Ohio State in 2011 before changing his mind and switching to Pitt four months later. He started five games and recorded four sacks as a freshman in ’11 before his first pec injury. He missed seven games last season with a back injury after recording one sack, and he also was out for much of the spring.
But he was listed at 255 pounds this summer — a significant gain of 25 pounds since the spring — and was expected to seriously compete for playing time at a position where Pitt needs the help.
Price was listed as a redshirt junior — he took a redshirt two years ago — and would have been an experienced hand and a source of quickness and power off the edge. Now, Pitt is left with projected starters David Durham, a fifth-year senior, and sophomore Shakir Soto. The rest of the depth chart at defensive end includes redshirt junior Devin Cook (coming off a knee injury), redshirt freshman Luke Maclean and incoming freshmen Rori Blair, Shane Roy and Hez Trahan.
Of course, running back James Conner probably will spend some time at defensive end after training camp opens Aug. 3. But his ultimate availability there depends largely on the depth situation at running back, a position that may be without a fully recovered Isaac Bennett (shoulder) for the start of camp. Freshman running back Chris James’ transition to the college game will be a storyline worth watching next month.
Meanwhile, Price will undergo rehab. Bad break for him; bad break for Pitt.

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