Cincinnati Bengals: Billy Price excited for ‘opportunity’ vs. Titans

Billy Price sees this as his big opportunity.

The Cincinnati Bengals likely will need him to play center Sunday against the Tennessee Titans, as Trey Hopkins remained in concussion protocol as of Thursday and is considered day-to-day.

Price, the team’s 2018 first-round draft pick out of Ohio State, stepped in to replace Hopkins for the final drive of the first half in a 37-34 loss to the Cleveland Browns, and now he has a full practice week to acclimate to that role with the first-team offense. His most recent game action before this past Sunday was at guard, as he was in the mix to replace injured right guard Xavier Su’a-Filo and last year spent time battling with Michael Jordan for the left guard spot.

“I think it’s very, very huge for me,” Price said Thursday. “It’s a situation you don’t take lightly. Again, any opportunity to get on the field, you get to really show your worth and your value and again, the reason why you were a first-round selection three years ago. I think it’s just another opportunity for me to go out there and do it.”

Price was the Remington Trophy winner – given to the nation’s best college center -- his senior season at Ohio State in 2017; however, after an injury-impacted rookie campaign in Marvin Lewis' final season as coach, he was bumped to a backup role under Zac Taylor and his new staff.

Hopkins beat Price out for the starting center role during the 2019 preseason, and Price spent the year in and out of the lineup at left guard, where Michael Jordan initially struggled.

“Right now I probably feel a little bit more comfortable at guard given that’s the last two positions that I’ve played, that I’ve gotten a decent amount of time at, but again, playing center, it’s dusting off the cobwebs,” Price said. “Playing a lot of that my rookie year—again, doing a lot of it in practice right now. Whatever the week is needed, that’s what I’m ready to go for.”

The need is at center now, at least until Hopkins is back or newly acquired lineman B.J. Finney arrives from Seattle, following health and safety protocols.

Cincinnati just needs linemen that can help rookie quarterback Joe Burrow get more time to make plays. He’s been getting the ball out of his hands more quickly in recent weeks but struggled some early on when pressure kept coming at him. The Titans aren’t known for their pass rush, as they rank tied for 28th in the league with just seven sacks on defense.

Price felt like he put some good things on film Sunday. He did have penalties, but no missed assignments and quarterback Joe Burrow was sacked just one time while the line was without Hopkins and left tackle Jonah Williams for the final 33 minutes. Right tackle Bobby Hart also was out for the last 90 seconds and replaced by rookie Hakeem Adeniji.

Alex Redmond, who started the season on the practice squad the first three weeks, has been playing right guard the last four games in place of Su’a-Filo and the Bengals finally had some consistency since then – up until the end of the first half Sunday. Price said he still felt comfortable with the guys he was playing next to.

“I play with these guys on scout team so I know exactly what they expect from me on the scout team,” Price said. “The communication was very, very efficient. I know Hakeem. I’ve spent a lot of time with Hakeem this offseason training with him down in Texas. Fred, I know very well as well. I’m not worried about these guys this week at all.”

Price had played next to Jordan for three years at Ohio State, before Jordan moved from left guard to center to replace Price when he graduated. He recently posted a photo of himself, Jordan and Burrow all playing together at Ohio State in 2016 and 2017.Now the three of them will likely be starting together for the first time in the NFL.

“It was kind of a surreal moment to have all those guys in there again,” Jordan said of playing with his former OSU teammates. “It was just like old times at Ohio State.”


Titans at Bengals, 1 p.m., 700, 1530, 102.7, 104.7

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