The rookies the Cincinnati Bengals drafted over the weekend weren’t physically in attendance Monday for the third week of voluntary offseason workouts, and it will be a couple of weeks before they get on field alongside the veterans.
But Andy Dalton was willing to wait to start building what be the most important relationship on the team between quarterback and center, one that will be different this year after four-year starter Russell Bodine left for Buffalo in free agency.
Dalton and his wife J.J. went out to dinner with first-round pick Billy Price and his girlfriend Saturday night after the former Ohio State center, who is expected to slide into the starting lineup as Bodine’s replacement, had met all of his media responsibilities.
“Just getting to meet him and getting to put a name with the face and just welcome him to the city, that’s the position I’m in now,” Dalton said.
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The 11 draft picks and the 12 undrafted free agents signed over the weekend aren’t allowed to report to the facility until the day before the May 11-13 rookie camp. After that the mingling with the veterans will begin the following week as the team begins preparing for the first OTA practices May 22-24.
“Obviously I had four years with Russ, so we have a lot of communication that we were used to, so we’re kind of starting from Square 1 now with Billy,” Dalton said. “Once he gets here we’ll be able to do some work. That’s the big thing, quarterback and center knowing where the protection’s going, knowing what the points on are different things, making sure we’re all on the same page.”
One person who doesn’t need to be introduced to Price is defensive tackle Ryan Glasgow, who played against him for three years at Michigan.
“Billy is a hell of a player, and the Bengals picked a great player in the first round,” Glasgow said. “Very strong. Huge guy. Very tough to move from a defensive perspective. Seeing his highlights from this year, it looks like he moves really well. It looks like he’s gotten a lot better as a player and I’m excited to be on his team now.”
In addition to lining up against Price, Glasgow likely will find himself lined up at some point next to third-round pick Sam Hubbard, another former rival at Ohio State.
“I don’t really like the Ohio State Buckeyes, and I’m sure they don’t really like the Michigan Wolverines, but personally, I have nothing against them and I’m glad we picked them,” he said. “It looks like they’re starting a little Ohio State pipeline. I’m not sure how I feel about that. But if they help us win, I’ll get over it.”
Price won’t be able to participate in the OTAs due to a pectoral injury he suffered at the Combine, but he will be on the field getting mental reps.
“Just being able to sit in the meeting room, I think that’s a huge difference,” said left guard Clint Boling, who also wasn’t able to participate in OTAs after he got drafted in 2011 because of the lockout.
“Just because he’s not able to be out on the field, he can still do certain things,” Boling said. “Maybe he’s doing individual with the coaches but not the team stuff. So I can still maybe line up next to him and work through drills and calls.”
Price already endeared himself to running backs Giovani Bernard and Joe Mixon with his quote about wanting to rip the opponent’s face off.
“I love that,” Mixon said. “Coming in with a mindset and attitude like that, that’s the stuff that me and Gio and Tra (Carson) and all of us backs like to hear. When he comes here and actually does it, that’s just going to make it better. I’m looking forward to it. I can’t wait.”
The first-round pick wasn’t the only one affecting the running backs. The biggest surprise of the weekend came when the Bengals selected Miami (Fla.) running back Mark Walton in the fourth round.
But both Mixon and Bernard, who at 5-foot-9, 205 pounds is the exact same size as Walton, embraced the pick.
“At the end of the day what you want to do is get the best players out there and stack the roster up,” Bernard said. “There’s two sides to this. There’s a side where you want to welcome everybody here, and there’s another side where it’s a business. You try to be professional in both manners.
“That’s what I’m about. I’ve always been that kind of guy,” Bernard said. “I’m inviting him here with open arms, but when it gets here, it’s time to roll. At the end of the day we all are fighting for something. We have to compete, and that usually brings the best out of everybody.”
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