With guard Xavier Su’a Filo out for the next few weeks, Billy Price is slated to return to the starting lineup for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Head coach Zac Taylor announced yesterday in a press conference that free-agent acquisition Xavier Su’a-Filo is expected to miss at least a few weeks after suffering an injury in the home-opener on Sunday. The former Cowboys and Texans guard performed well across his first 40 snaps in stripes, earning a Pro Football Focus grade of 75.5.
All signs indicate that Billy Price will be the one tasked with filling Su’a-Filo’s shoes. The former first-round pick has had an extraordinarily disappointing career with the Bengals so far, but he will get one more chance to live up to his draft billing.
Billy Price gets an opportunity at his native position
During Price’s collegiate days with the Ohio State Buckeyes, he played the majority of his snaps at guard but was asked to kick in to the center position for his senior campaign. He performed well in his new role, even securing the Rimington Award, given to the nation’s best center. However, it was evident he was more comfortable at guard and he played at a higher level in his native position.
Unfortunately, the previous coaching regime didn’t see things that way and the depth chart played out in a way that saw Price lining up a center instead of his optimal position. There are many factors that have caused things to go astray, but perhaps this was the point where things began going wrong.
Now, with Trey Hopkins securing the center position and playing at a high level, Price will get the best opportunity possible to show off his talent.
The offensive line outlook
Anybody that tuned in to watch the Bengals face the Chargers knows that Cincinnati has a serious problem in the offensive trenches. Granted, they were going up against one of the best pass-rushing duos in the league, but rookie quarterback Joe Burrow rarely had time to breathe.
The outlook for the offensive line grows even more uncertain with Price slated to enter the starting lineup. So far, there has been little reason for optimism. However, the talent and mindset that caused him to be selected with the 21st overall pick didn’t just disappear when he entered the professional ranks. Perhaps he can surprise everybody and play up to his capabilities.
The Bengals do have other options if things do start to go off track. The next man up is likely Fred Johnson. The mammoth offensive lineman showed plenty of potential down the stretch a season ago but is more suited to play tackle than guard.
You can’t forget about rookie Hakeem Adeniji either. The Bengals official website went so far as to say Adeniji “will be a starter at some point.” He’s fast, athletic, and bursting with potential. Sure, there may be some growing pains, but if he can develop sooner rather than later, Cincinnati will be one step closer to solving the offensive line puzzle.
For now, all eyes are on Price, who could be gearing up for what is his last chance with the Bengals. Fans will get their first look at him in a full-time starting capacity this Thursday when the club travels to Cleveland to take on the Browns.