Billy Price noticed the attention his participation in Cincinnati Bengals rookie minicamp drew in the media and among fans over the weekend and laughed when asked about it later.
The Bengals’ first-round draft pick and former Ohio State University center hasn’t been cleared fully in his recovery from surgery to repair a partially torn pectoral muscle; however, he was able to do some drills that didn’t involve pushing against a defender.
Price said it seemed people blew out of proportion the fact he was participating at all.
“I expected to come in here and do as much as I can,” Price said Monday on the first day the rookies were mixed in with veterans at voluntary workouts. “I pushed the envelope a little bit, but nothing against defensive guys. If it’s self-service against an offensive guy, there’s no reason I can’t do some of those things. I’m not punching and striking as violently as I would against defensive guys, so I think it’s good for me to get the footwork and hand placement down and continue to challenge the mind. Especially recognizing defenses and adjustments and what the appropriate calls are, that’s what I need to make sure I’ve got down.”
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His participation wasn’t forced, Price said, and team director of rehabilitation Nick Cosgray stayed with him the entire time to make sure he wasn’t doing too much. If something seemed like it would hurt his upper body, he simply stayed out of that drill, but Price was anxious to get to work.
Price suffered the injury at the NFL Combine and expects to be cleared fully in late June.
“It felt great,” he said. “I haven’t done anything, no spring ball or anything. The difference between the rookie process is that it’s May and you haven’t played football since your last game, compared to what I used to do with spring ball, I’d be back in March, so it’s felt great getting back out there and running around, getting your mind going football wise.”
As the team’s projected starting center to replace departed Russell Bodine, Price has his work cut out for him in getting acclimated to his new environment and teammates.
On Monday, he had a chance to work with quarterback Andy Dalton for the first time, and the two spent some time afterward briefly discussing some of the adjustments Price needed to make. Ohio State rarely, if ever, used their quarterbacks under center like Price will be doing with Dalton.
“I’ve just got to continue to be consistent with ball placement because that makes his job easier, and me being the rookie, you do what they ask,” Price said. “Getting with the offensive line guys is the other thing, just creating that chemistry to make sure we’ve got consistency between the guys and earn their respect because I’m a nobody. I’m a rookie, I haven’t done anything. I haven’t earned my keep. I’ve got to communicate, talk show what I know and work through things together because that’s what we have to do on game days.”
Price said the trajectory of the snap depends a lot on the height and arm length of the quarterback, so he just needs to listen to how Dalton wants the ball. He admitted some of his snaps pulled to the side too much but the two will continue to work on that over the next few weeks before the team breaks in June. Organized team activities begin next week.
“He’s doing a good job, as much as he can do right not to learn what’s going on,” Dalton said of Price. “For him, he had never snapped under center so we have to work through it a little bit but for the first day, I think he did a good job. Obviously, we will know more when we are going against defenses but the start today was good for us.”