One of the bigger storylines surrounding Andy Dalton and the Bengals’ offense during offseason workouts has mainly centered around arm strength.
Had this been a vertical scheme run by former offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski, the concerns would be warranted. But with Jay Gruden running a West Coast Offense, it is a more horizontal-based attack. That hasn’t stopped Dalton though for trying to prove a point. During practices open to the media, Dalton has thrown at least two passes that were over 50 yards in the air.
Quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese is among those who don’t have any major concerns over Dalton’s arm strength, but he could see where others outside the building could because there were number of passes that were left short last year.
“It’s not a matter of strength but technique. We have built things from the ground up,” Zampese said. “You put a hurdle on him and he’s going to figure out a way to get better at it. With deep balls and go routes now there’s something going 50 yards every practice. You get technique and feeling down and he has cleared it.”
Dalton was good on balls thrown over 20 yards in the air last year, going 11 of 16 for 362 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. On passes outside the numbers through he was 19 of 49 for 558 yards with four touchdowns and five interceptions.
Zampese said throughout last season that Dalton would benefit from an offseason program so that they could work on his technique and footwork. So far it has centered more on footwork.
It has also helped that Dalton has been more at ease and has confidence in the guys around him. That has helped him come more out of his shell and emerge as one of the team’s leaders.
“I think I’ve done a better job this spring,” Dalton said. “If a guy runs a route a little differently, instead of letting a coach do it, I’m going to go over there and talk to him. Last year I was trying to get the next play or trying to do things like that and let the coach handle it (other issues). Right now, I feel like I can go over there and say something, because getting the next play is second nature.”
Whether or not that helps the Bengals offense finish higher than 20th remains to be seen. After having one of the league’s more potent units, they have finished 20th or worse for the past four seasons.
A large part will depend on how guys not named A.J. Green will perform. The receivers unit has only one player with four seasons or more of NFL experience while the running backs are trying to transition more into a backfield by committee approach, led by BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
Said Dalton of the offense: “We’ve definitely improved. We can see the potential that we have, we just have to keep getting better and better each day.”
Green to work out with Fitzgerald
–Wide receiver A.J. Green is headed to Minnesota, where he will work out with Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald.
Green worked out with Detroit’s Calvin Johnson in Atlanta before the offseason program begin in mid-April, but this will be the first time that Green has had a chance to gain knowledge from Fitzgerald.
Said Green of Fitzgerald: “He’s aggressive in going to get the ball and his knowledge for the game. He’s not the fastest guy but he runs the best routes.”
–Second-year linebacker Dontay Moch will be suspended for the first four regular-season games for violating the NFL policy on performance enhancing substances
Moch, who is going into his second year, will be eligible to return on Oct. 1, following the game at Jacksonville.
This is the third straight year and fourth time in five years that a Bengal has been suspended for violating the policy, joining linebacker Darryl Blackstock (2008), defensive end Antwan Odom (2010) and guard Bobbie Williams (2011).
–Cornerback Leon Hall said he is confident about being ready for the first practice of training camp on July 27.
“PUP is not really in my dictionary right now to be honest. I’m taking it day by day right now,” Hall said. “I am gunning for the first day of training camp.”
Hall tore the left Achilles in a loss to the Steelers on Nov. 8 and said he feels like he is further along than originally planned. He is doing a full range of running along with most football-related drills.
Head coach Marvin Lewis said that for the past two weeks Hall has been doing some of the same drills on a side field that the rest of the secondary has been doing. Hall has said the Achilles is strong enough now, it is just a matter of having the confidence in it.
–The Bengals are joining the digital age when it comes to their playbooks. The team has acquired 110 iPads for players and coaches which will hold the playbooks along with game, classroom and practice videos.
There was some talk of doing it last season, but Lewis wanted to hold off mostly due to the lockout. The Bengals are one of 12 teams who will be going with iPads for their playbooks this season.
–It appears more likely that Lewis will go into the season without a contract extension for the second time in three years.
Lewis, who is going into this 10th season, said he has not talked to Mike Brown about it in “awhile.”
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
If the Bengals were looking for some separation going into training camp at receiver or in the secondary that has not happened. It probably has become more muddled.
Going into camp, Brandon Tate, Armon Binns, Ryan Whalen and Mohamed Sanu figure to be in the mix to start opposite A.J. Green. At corner, a lot will depend on if Hall is ready to go at the start of camp while Taylor Mays has a narrow edge on the second safety spot.MEDICAL WATCH
–RB Daniel Herron (foot) should be ready in time for the start of training camp.
–CB Nate Clements (abdominal) did not take part in any of the OTA sessions but should be set to go for training camp.