Stop us if you’ve hear this before: a Cincinnati Bengals starting center is having trouble snapping in early training camp practices.
Russell Bodine, AKA every Bengals’ fans favorite whipping boy since 2014, had this exact issue throughout his four-year Cincinnati tenure, particularly in his first two camps.
Now, his replacement in first-round rookie Billy Price, is reportedly having similar issues.
price’s snapping troubles continue pic.twitter.com/ILzwhpdk4d— John Sheeran (@John__Sheeran) August 3, 2018
Price’s snapping issues have been a quiet theme of Bengals training camp and are “stuck in the background”. While the offense has seemingly been improved in early practices as compared to previous years, the center position might have a bit more questions than meet the eye.
Billy Price not talking after his rough day of snaps, but lots of opinions and "it's got to get fixed" from all other parties connected to it.— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) August 4, 2018
Now, what’s important to note is that this isn’t solely an issue between Price, the perceived starting center, and Andy Dalton, who is the starting quarterback. Some of these issues have occurred between Price and Jeff Driskel, as well as the rookie and backup Matt Barkley.
Regardless, the team realizes that this is once again an issue that needs to be cleaned up for 2018 success.
“We have to get better with it,” Marvin Lewis said, via The Cincinnati Enquirer. “There’s no question. It’s continued to linger.”
“We had one with each quarterback today,” Lewis continued. “Same center and each quarterback. So Billy’s just got to understand how important that is. That’s Step 1. We do have to make sure. We’ve got to do some things a little differently as we practice it and doing things in their individual time.”
Look, we get it—this is going to be a summer of growing pains at a number of positions. Price is an obvious upgrade over Russell Bodine in terms of talent, but these issues just seem to be a dark cloud over an otherwise unanimously-positive training camp.
Thankfully, the Bengals are actually letting Price work through his problem for now. That wasn’t the case last year when the Bengals’ first-round pick, John Ross, had any issues. It seemed like any mistake he made automatically sent him to the bench and further into Lewis’ doghouse.
For now, the Bengals are letting Price work through his issues and not immediately replacing him with T.J. Johnson, the likely backup center.
Despite this persisting predicament, things seem to be looking up on the offensive line—both because of Cordy Glenn at left tackle and Price at center. Check out Price at the second level here:
.@Joe_MainMixon breaking tackles. #SeizeTheDEY pic.twitter.com/HCNLFadCLz— Houston Crawford (@htown) July 30, 2018
And though we hate to play “devil’s advocate”, but remember Frank Ragnow?
Essentially, the Bengals were said to be interested in the top three centers in the 2018 class in Ragnow, Price and James Daniels.
Ragnow was said to be one of the favorites for the Bengals in Round 1, but the Lions jumped at the chance at grabbing the former Arkansas Razorback as the first selection of the trio at No. 20 overall.
And, though it appears as if Ragnow has the inside track at the left guard job in Detroit, Jeff Risdon of USA Today’s Lion’s Wire also noted that their 2018 first round pick is looking the part.
We may be overreacting here, given the process of uncoiling the kinks in training camp, but there is reason for concern. Yes, the Bengals have done an admirable job this offseason in improving critical positions that have let them down in previous years, but they have seemingly addressed other issues in the first half of the 2018 calendar year.
Depending on how “old school” one is, in terms of their approach to football, Price should be given the opportunity to get in-game snaps before more judgement is to be made.
However, further lost in translation is Lewis entering his 16th season and a new offensive line coach (Frank Pollack), in which the latter has particularly pointed to a major change in the middle of the offense.
What should we make of Price’s early performance in camp? Should it be written off, or is it a sign of things to come in 2018?