The surprise isn’t that rookie center Billy Price’s New York doctor cleared him for all football activities on Monday. The surprise is that he did so much work on the field during the last month before he did get cleared.
As he rehabbed from early March surgery to repair a partially torn pectoral muscle, Price did everything in the May on-field voluntary drills but 11-on-11 full-blown team snaps.
“Well, yeah, maybe,” said Price Monday, asked if he did more than had been prescribed. “But it always felt great. I didn’t feel like I overdid anything. When you think about it, being at Ohio State and then coming down here (in the middle of it), the rehab probably went as smoothly as it could have.”
Price, back in Cincinnati after the quick up-and-back to The Big Apple, had always been penciled in for the start of training camp even before the Bengals took him with their first pick at No. 21. As the club wrapped up its mandatory minicamp last Thursday, Price theorized he was a month ahead of schedule and he’s emboldened by the work he did get done in new offensive line coach Frank Pollack’s scheme.
There were those that were surprised Price got as much done physically during the nine practice sessions since Pollack’s intense individual drills are seen to be as demanding, if not more so, than the team work. Pollack’s emphasis on punching and use of hands tested Price’s rehab right away and he passed with flying colors.
“Any offensive lineman has to be able to use the arms and hands to be able to punch,” Price said. “The only restriction was not being able to go 11-on-11 and now that’s been lifted, so we’re good to go.”
The Bengals are also emboldened by their choice back in April. It’s believed they had Price and Frank Ragnow, the 6-5, 312-pounder from Arkansas, rated pretty much evenly among centers and when the Lions took Ragnow No. 20 Price was the no-doubt pick. After watching the 6-3, 300-pound Price work, the Bengals believe his frame may actually be a better fit than Ragnow for what Pollack asks his linemen to do.
“I just have to keep it going,” Price said. “So far so good. I’ve got another big month to go.”
Here’s another reason why the Bengals also think he’s a great fit for what Pollack is building up front. His unvarnished work ethic.
Price has already found a home in Kentucky, has settled in after his move from Columbus, and plans to work with Bengals rehab trainer Nick Cosgray daily at Paul Brown Stadium until training camp start July 26. That’s three months to the day after the draft and he figures to be lining up as the No. 1 center.
“I won’t be with Coach Pollack, but I’ll be doing some on-field stuff with Nick Cosgray,” said Price, who is back to repping 315 pounds. “I’ll keep studying the playbook and try to keep getting stronger.”