Slants and screens: Price puts in full day despite injury; 3 more sign

Posted May 12, 2018

The Bengals today signed three draft picks, including second-round S Jessie Bates, fourth-round HB Mark Walton and fifth-round CB Darius Phillips.

Billy Price isn’t going to face a defensive tackle before training camp begins in two-and-a-half months but that didn’t stop him from staying on the field longer than anybody else Saturday during the middle day of the Bengals rookie minicamp.

Price, the Bengals’ Opening Day center, is doing all the things a first-round pick should do even though he’s still rehabbing from an early March surgery to repair a partially-torn pectoral muscle.

During what he calls a “self-service,” period where other offensive players act as defenders in what amounts to a walk-through, Price was the first-team center as offensive line coach Frank Pollack ran through the responses to the looks and when Price snapped the ball the players ran through their assignments.

He usually doesn’t touch anybody, although there was enough pushing that Bengals president Mike Brown expressed some concern to the coaches before Saturday’s practice. Price stayed the course, but didn’t take any snaps when the offense went against the defense. He did stay near the huddle to pick up the call against that defense. After practice Price, cleared to run a week and a half ago, stayed on the field for about 30 minutes for conditioning administered by director of rehab Nick Cosgray.

He’s confident he’ll get it all down, but it’s not pretty early.

“I’ve been speaking French and now I’m speaking Spanish,” Price said. “We did nothing like Coach Pollack is doing at Ohio State. Nothing. For me right now it’s a struggle, but it’s going to get better.

“I’m trying to pick it up faster. We’re looking at certain alignments and the different variations that can come off of that.”

Even though he’s not butting heads, Price is making strides in picking up Pollack’s technique and offensive coordinator Bill Lazor’s plays.

“With self-serve it’s a lot easier because you can recognize looks without somebody trying to take you out,” he said.

_The Bengals Saturday signed three draft picks, including second-round safety Jessie Bates, fourth-round running back Mark Walton and fifth-round cornerback Darius Phillips.

In two years (2016-17) of action at Wake Forest, Bates (6-1, 200) totaled 179 tackles, including 9.5 for losses, with six INTs, nine pass breakups and two forced fumbles. He also served as a punt returner for the Demon Deacons, averaging 9.0 yards on 26 career returns, with one TD

Walton (5-10, 202) played three seasons (2015-17) at Miami, and in 30 career games totaled 2930 total yards and 28 TDs — 26 rushing and two receiving. Although an injury limited his 2017 campaign to just four games, he still managed 428 rushing yards on 56 carries (7.6) and three rushing TDs.

Phillips (5-10, 193) was a three-time all-conference selection on defense in four seasons (2014-17) of action at Western Michigan, but he perhaps was best known for his impact on special teams. He finished his career ranked sixth in FBS history in kickoff return yards, with 3,145, and had four career kickoff returns of at least 100 yards. He scored 14 career TDs in five different ways — five KR, one PR, five INT, one FR and two receiving.

Of the Bengals’ 11 draft picks, just four remained unsigned, including C Billy Price (first round; Ohio State), DE Sam Hubbard (third round; Ohio State), LB Malik Jefferson (third round; Texas) and WR Auden Tate (seventh round; Florida State).

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