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Bengals Week 12 rookie report: Billy Price’s no good, very bad day

The Bengals’ first-round pick struggled mightily against the Browns, while their second-round pick looked like the only defender trying.

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Cincinnati Bengals Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

For the second straight week, the Bengals got blown away by a rookie quarterback; only this time, they were the favorites and were playing at home. Quarterback Baker Mayfield of the Browns all but erased the Bengals playoff hopes before they were officially eradicated upon learning that Andy Dalton’s season is over due to another thumb injury.

Mayfield wasn’t the only rookie to shine on Sunday in Cincinnati, but most of them also didn’t play for the home team. Here’s how the Bengals’ rookies performed in their 35-20 loss to their in-state rivals.

Billy Price

Oh boy, talk about a performance to forget.

Out of the five games Price has played this season, this one was probably the worst for the Bengals’ rookie center. Pass protection wasn’t too bad, especially compared to last week, but the run blocking against the Browns interior defensive line and linebackers was just not good. And to top it all off, it was a high-snap from Price that caused Dalton’s season-ending injury.

Considering who Price was as a prospect at center, his inconsistencies aren’t too unexpected. There’s some good tape of Price from this game, but when you play a position like center, you’ll be remembered for the mistakes you’re paid not to make. Price had a bad game, he got his quarterback injured, and a quarterback whom the Bengals could’ve taken with the 21st overall pick won his second straight start in Baltimore.

Just food for thought.

Jessie Bates

Meanwhile on the defensive side of the ball, Bates continues to look like the only player trying to stop the opposing team from scoring. He finished the game with five tackles (none of which were “stops” for the defense) and an impressive pass deflection late in the game.

Much like the Bengals’ cornerbacks, Bates isn’t really getting tested too often in this current disaster that the Bengals defense is in the midst of. The scheme that Marvin Lewis is deploying isn’t too different from what Teryl Austin was running when he was calling the plays as defensive coordinator, and the middle of the field remains wide open where they’re asking the opposing offense to attack.

As a result, Bates has continued to help out mainly by coming downhill to make open field tackles near or past the first down marker. When balls are so rarely thrown his way however, he’s continued to make the quarterback pay more times than not.

Sam Hubbard

Having seven defensive line active on game day isn’t abnormal for an NFL team, but the Bengals have just eight able bodies on their entire roster right now. Despite this, Hubbard wasn’t used any more in the rotation than normal. Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson were on the edge for the majority of Cleveland’s running plays, and there wasn’t too much opportunity to rotate Hubbard in with how quickly Cleveland moved the ball towards the end zone throughout the game.

Hubbard finished the game with two tackles on 26 snaps and didn’t make an impact as a pass rusher, working primarily against left tackle Greg Robinson on the edge.

Malik Jefferson

The Bengals made a change at the linebacker position before this game, but it did not involve Jefferson. Vontaze Burfict moved to MIKE linebacker and Jordan Evans replaced him at WILL linebacker, while Vincent Rey was at SAM linebacker and really only played when the Bengals were in their base defense.

Rey played alright, but as it’s been all season, Burfict and Evans continued to struggle and suffer from the Bengals’ defensive scheme. Even past that, Burfict maintained his current reputation as someone who’s playing like a shell of himself, and the rest of the defense seems to resonate off that.

It seems like Lewis has no other alternatives at the position group other than playing Jefferson, but that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen unless they suffer yet ANOTHER injury. Jefferson once agains played well on special teams though, if that consoles any of you.

Mark Walton

Walton hasn’t been a part of the Bengals offense since Week 10 against the Saints, as he’s been racking up the special teams snaps. He has 29 of them in the last two weeks and was credited with a tackle on the opening kickoff.

Darius Phillips

With Dre Kirkpatrick sitting this game out with a concussion, Phillips was tasked with replacing him when the Bengals defense had Darqueze Dennard on the field playing the slot. As is the case for Bates, Phillips and the rest of the cornerbacks didn’t really get tested in coverage and he had a solid game because of it. Whenever Phillips has been on the field this year, he’s been solid. This game was another example.

Auden Tate

Folks, Auden Tate finally played a decent amount of snaps in a game. Tate technically had eight targets but one of them didn’t count due to a Browns player being offsides on the play.

Tate hauled in two of his seven actual targets for 15 yards, including a reception reminiscent of one of his dazzling preseason grabs.

Tate didn’t really play the bulk of his snaps until the game was pretty much out of reach, but at the very least he set up some form of chemistry between him and Jeff Driskel, who will be starting at quarterback going forward now. Despite Cody Core playing a healthy amount of snaps, offensive coordinator Bill Lazor seems to be interested in what Tate can do instead now.

Niles Scott

So about that defensive line, it is really, REALLY banged up right now. So much so that the team had to sign Scott off the Broncos’ practice squad this week to compensate for putting both Josh Tupou and Adolphus Washington on injured reserve.

Scott ended up playing just eight snaps and actually made an impressive stop on an inside run play.

It’ll be interesting to see how much Scott ends up playing for the rest of the season, and if it’ll be enough to warrant a future contract in the beginning of the offseason.

Jordan Franks

This was actually the first game for Franks all season where he only appeared on special teams. the rookie tight end did not play a single snap on offense, and had just nine snaps on special teams. Part of it might have to do with the “illegal double-team block” he was penalized for early in the game.

Now below .500 and basically out of the playoff race, the Bengals host the Broncos next week at home and welcome one of the premier rushing attacks in the league lead by two rookies Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman. The duo averages 5.14 yards per carry and the team is fresh off a home victory over the Steelers.

What could possibly go wrong?