CINCINNATI — When Bengals’ offensive lineman Billy Price’s number is called, he’s ready.
Price’s NFL journey hasn’t always been smooth sailing, but the former first-round pick has made the most of recent opportunities.
He started at center on Sunday in place of injured Trey Hopkins and helped the Bengals upset the Titans 31-20. Cincinnati never trailed in the contest and Joe Burrow wasn't sacked for the first time this season.
“It was a total game for us.” Price told AllBengals. “Going against Tennessee, we just completed the game—we were physical up front.”
Price was prepared for Sunday because of the work he puts in behind the scenes.
He starts laying the groundwork on Monday with film review from the previous game, meetings and a lift in the weight room.
Players have Tuesday off, but Price uses it for meal prep. He goes to the grocery store with specific items in mind that align with his diet. He does most of the cooking, before enjoying the off day with his wife and dogs.
They usually watch the latest episode of The Bachelorette.
Wednesdays begin a new week in the NFL. The team starts with an 8am lift. Then they are in meetings, walk-through and practice for the rest of the day. The process is repeated Thursday, but a protection meeting with the centers and quarterbacks takes the place of their early-morning lift.
Price stops at Chick-fil-A on Friday's before going to practice. The team is usually finished by noon. Saturday's start with a morning walkthrough, followed by meetings in the evening that put the finishing touches on the game plan.
The grind doesn’t stop when the games are over. This past offseason was arguably the most important offseason of Price's career. He was healthy and ready to show everyone that he can perform in the NFL.
Price went to Texas and worked with offensive line guru Duke Manyweather.
Manyweather has trained some of the best offensive linemen in football. They worked on technique, strength and conditioning and mobility. He incorporates classroom work to breakdown film, defensive schemes, best practices and on-field experiences.
Manyweather has also helped Price with the mental side of the game.
“The biggest thing is really being able to attack it from a mental side off the field. You can’t control what coaches do, what the media does," Price said. "You can’t control anything but you. I think that’s been my biggest step. I got to tip my head off to Duke for that.”
Price talks with his former offensive line coach Greg Studrawa regularly. The duo worked together for two seasons at Ohio State.
He admits that he's been tested over his first few NFL seasons, but relationships with Manyweather and Studrawa have helped him mentally and physically.
Price’s work ethic and determination didn't go unnoticed after Sunday's win. The 26-year-old has to be ready to play three positions—left guard, right guard and center—at a moments notice. He held his own in Week 7 against the Browns after Hopkins left the game with a concussion. Price followed that up with an even better performance against the Titans.
"Billy Price got a game ball. He’s about everything we want our players to be about," Bengals head coach Zac Taylor said after the game. "He’s a guy who came in with expectations and never wavered from that. His opportunity hasn’t always been exactly what he thought it would be, but he comes in with a smile on his face every day and goes to work. He encourages everybody, [saying] 'What can I do to get better? Do you need me to play on the scout team? Do you need me to play guard?' His personality has never wavered for one second. I couldn’t be happier for Billy because he’s earned this opportunity. You never know how things are going to shake out, but I’m really proud of the person, the man and the player he is. Our guys can learn a lot from Billy.”
Things haven't been easy for Price. He's dealt with injuries in years past. The coaching staff that drafted him was gone after one season.
He never stopped working and was grateful for the game ball he received on Sunday.
“It’s a testament to the process and the journey.” Price said. “The NFL isn’t just a waltz in the park. There’s a lot of highs and lows. Things haven’t gone the way that I’ve personally wanted them to. You grow from the experiences. It was really just a nice complement.”
Price has faced plenty of adversity in his three-year career, but strives to be the best player, teammate and person he can be—both on and off the field. He’s a guy you want in your locker room. He's a leader.
Price believes in this team. He thinks they're going to hit their stride in the second half of the season.
“The attitude and perspective of the Cincinnati Bengals is going to change as we go forward," he said.
Price is expected to return to the bench for the Bengals' Week 10 matchup against the Steelers, but he's going to be ready go when his number is called.
"This process is long. Again, you've got highs and lows and when the opportunity comes, take advantage of that," Price said. "Don't take a day for granted. Even though you're on scout team, you're going against the first team defense. I'm going against Geno Atkins. Previously I'm going against Carlos Dunlap and guys like that. They get your ready. They're first team. They're an NFL starter. I'm just really, really appreciative of every moment."
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