Dalton limited in practice by bruised forearm
Rookie quarterback Andy Dalton practiced a couple of handoffs at the start of the Cincinnati Bengals practice, looking perfectly fine in his bright orange No. 14 jersey.
The next drill: Throw some warm-up passes. That's when the problem was evident.
Dalton stood and watched the other quarterbacks throw on Wednesday afternoon, resting his bruised right wrist and forearm. The Bengals plan to go slowly with Dalton this week, but think he could start Sunday in Denver.
''It's getting better every day,'' Dalton said before practice. ''That's all I can ask for. And we'll see going out there what I'm able to do. I'm hopeful.''
Dalton's throwing arm was hit after he released a pass during a 27-17 win in Cleveland on Sunday. His wrist and forearm bothered him so much that he couldn't grip the ball very well, forcing him to the sideline for the second half. Bruce Gradkowski led Cincinnati to the win with a quick-snap touchdown pass.
Coach Marvin Lewis plans to let Gradkowski run most of the plays in practice while Dalton gets treatment and avoids throwing for now. When Dalton wanted to toss a ball to a teammate on Wednesday, he did it with his left arm.
''Andy will be limited, and we'll watch and just be careful with him,'' Lewis said. ''I think the more we allow him to rest, the better he will be for Sunday.''
Dalton had an impressive debut in Cleveland, leading the Bengals to a touchdown and a pair of field goals on their first three possessions. He was 10 of 15 for 81 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions when he got knocked out of the game on the final play of the first half.
Any worries about rookie jitters were quickly gone.
''I'd like to see somebody tell me where he looked like a rookie on Sunday,'' left tackle Andrew Whitworth said. ''The guy was calm, cool and collected and did his job. I thought he played well, but the key is going to be that we play well around him.''
Dalton's right forearm and wrist were hit by Phil Taylor's facemask as he was tackled after releasing a pass. Dalton knew right away that something was wrong. He didn't have much strength in his hand and couldn't grip a ball very well.
''I've hit my wrist before and I felt like I could shake it off,'' he said. ''But this one, I could tell that I didn't have the grip that I needed to have.''
X-rays at halftime were negative. He returned to the field in the third quarter and threw a few warm-up passes but struggled to hold onto the ball. He said the wrist and forearm have improved in the last few days.
The main concern is whether he can hold the ball tightly enough.
''I guess with the wrist injury, that's a big part of it,'' Dalton said. ''There is still a little bit of pain in there but like I said, it's getting better every day.''
Dalton's first half impressed his teammates. The offense moved smoothly even though a rookie was making the calls at the line of scrimmage.
''Dalton did a great job of getting us in and out of stuff, getting us in the right checks,'' Whitworth said. ''We have said all along that is what he is great at. He's great at orchestrating the offense and putting you in the right places. As a young guy, you can tell he is calm and cool and knows when things are coming.''
Gradkowski threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Green off a quick-snap play, catching the Browns off-guard for the go-ahead score in the fourth quarter. It was his first big moment for the Bengals, whom he beat twice when he was with Tampa Bay and Oakland.
''I know the respect is there from the guys,'' Gradkowski said Wednesday. ''It's only one win. A couple of the guys have said we already knew what you got since you beat us twice. They've been good with that.''
Notes: Whitworth said someone landed on his left foot during the game. He wore a boot in the locker room afterward Sunday as a precaution, but was back at practice in a limited role on Wednesday and expects to play against the Broncos. ... DE Robert Geathers was held out of practice with a sore shoulder. DE Michael Johnson (groin) and DE Frostee Rucker (illness) were limited.