Price Ready To Lead In Year Two

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Jeff Driskel (6) and center Billy Price (53) prepare for the snap during a week 14 NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, Dec. 9 in Carson, Calif. (Aaron M. Sprecher via AP)
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Jeff Driskel (6) and center Billy Price (53) prepare for the snap during a week 14 NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, Dec. 9 in Carson, Calif. (Aaron M. Sprecher via AP)

Nobody on the Bengals roster is going to have a more eventful break before the start of training camp in late July than second year center Billy Price.

"I'm getting married and then heading to Bora Bora for 10 days," he said prior to his June 20 wedding.

But when the honeymoon is over, Price will be ready to get back to work.

"I enjoy being in the building and I enjoy being around the strength staff and the coaches," Price said. "I'm looking forward to those 10 days with my wife, but the season is right around the corner and everything doesn't matter except for ball."

Last year's first round draft pick endured a challenging rookie season. A torn pectoral muscle at the NFL Scouting Combine limited his ability to take part in the team's offseason program and a foot injury in the second week of the season forced him to miss six games.

But Price is healthy and appears to be noticeably bigger going into his second season. 

"His body is stronger and thicker," said my broadcast partner Dave Lapham. "You're not going to bull-rush his butt."

Price's biggest area of growth is likely to be the mental side of the game with a year of NFL experience under his belt.

"It's a lot better feeling than what you come into as a rookie," Price said. "Especially the offense that I came from which was very simple. My (football) IQ wasn't very high, so where I am today versus where I was last year is completely different."   

"As a rookie I didn't know what I didn't know," said Lapham. "I thought I knew, but I really didn't know. Then you start to know. And I think he's starting to feel more confident because of that. Because he does have some experiences at the NFL level in the bank. So with his physical advancement and his mental advancement, I think he's feeling very confident and he should."

Price started 55 games at Ohio State and the Buckeyes ranked in the top 20 in rushing offense in all four seasons of his career. But the defenses he faced in college were rudimentary compared to what he's seeing in the NFL.

View some of the best images from center Billy Price's 2018 campaign with the Bengals.

"There were only two linebackers in the box at all times," said Price. "We didn't have to worry about rotations and whether a nickel was in the box or a safety was in the box. None of that stuff really mattered to us. It was 'this is what they're going to line up in and let's go run it down their throat.' You don't know until you're exposed to it."

Diagnosing the defense is especially critical for the center who typically has to call out blocking adjustments at the line based on what he sees.

"That's not an easy job in there no matter how you cut it," said offensive line coach Jim Turner. "You can be a first rounder or a seventh rounder or a free agent – it doesn't matter. When you step on the field and you're actually out there playing you've got to do that job. My point of that is that he's a young player. And young is young – you can't change that. He's in his second year and he's still going to make mistakes, but he is getting better. He is getting smarter."

And the two-time team captain at Ohio State is also taking on a leadership role on the offensive line.

"He does have leadership qualities," said Lapham. "There's no doubt. His personality is that of 'come do what I do.' He wants to be out front – a front and center kind of guy. And with that comes responsibility. You're putting pressure on yourself when you do that kind of thing. But he's ready for it."

"No matter how you cut it, he's the center so he is the leader of that group," said Turner. "And he's got to take that role on. And he will."

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