Pat Elflein will be full-go in practice next week for Buckeyes

The most experienced player on the 2016 Ohio State Buckeyes, the most inexperienced team coach Urban Meyer has ever had, won’t be full go in practice until next week.

Center Pat Elflein underwent shoulder surgery in May to remove a cyst that was pinching a nerve. He has taken it slowly in preseason camp. He still expects to start the season opener Sept. 3 against Bowling Green.

Elflein, one of three captains along with quarterback J.T. Barrett and linebacker Raekwon McMillan, has done much of his leading from the sideline this month.

“That was tough,” Elflein said Wednesday, “sitting back and trying to be in there and lead the guys. When you’re not in there, it’s not the same as when you are in there. You’re not going through what they’re going through.”

Elflein, a fifth-year senior from Pickerington, started all 28 games the last two seasons at guard. He moved to center this season when two-year starting center Jacoby Boren graduated.

“I’ve played center the past two, three years — always as a backup, taking reps — so I’ve been comfortable in that transition,” Elflein said. “It’s going good, and I’m feeling comfortable there.”

Three-year starting guard Billy Price has taken a leadership role in Elflein’s absence.

“This is first and foremost Pat’s offensive line,” Price said. “I don’t want there to ever be a question about that. My job is when he is out to step up and take that role, to take that leadership and be the older guy. We’re excited to get Pat back, and we’re ready to rock and roll.”

The Buckeyes will have three new starters on the line. Jamarco Jones and Isaiah Prince are expected to start at the tackle spots, and true freshman Michael Jordan likely will start at left guard. The first official depth chart comes out next week. The coaches have been hesitant to officially name starters until then.

“I think we can be really good, even one of the best,” Elflein said. “We can pick up right where we left off, always breaking records, being in the Ohio State record book and rushing for hundreds of yards each game.”

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