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Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Bengals Q&A with Andy Dalton

By James Walker

GEORGETOWN, Ky. -- Carson Palmer is out and Andy Dalton is in with the Cincinnati Bengals. The Dalton era will begin Friday when the rookie quarterback makes his NFL debut against the Detroit Lions.

The AFC North blog caught up with Dalton following Monday night's practice to discuss a variety of topics. The former TCU star talked about, among other things, replacing Palmer and starting a new rivalry with Cleveland Browns quarterback, and fellow Texas native, Colt McCoy.

Andy, what's it like to be first on the depth chart as a rookie heading into the preseason opener?

Andy Dalton
Rookie quarterback Andy Dalton and new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden will take the reigns in Cincinnati this fall.
Dalton: It's a good opportunity for me. I knew once I got drafted here there was going to be an opportunity. I feel I've come out and worked hard and tried to get better each day. That's all I can do right now.

I watched the quarterback camp on ESPN with Jon Gruden, and he loved you. His brother, Jay Gruden, really pushed for you in the draft. How would you describe your rapport with the Gruden family?

Dalton: I was just trying to be myself in [Jon Gruden’s camp]. I wasn't trying to be anybody else. I just showed my personality a bit and we just kind of clicked. I think hitting it off with Jon helped me out here, because I knew Jay was going to be here. I’m sure they talked back and forth a little bit about me. But their style of offense and style of play is what I've been used to.

If Jon Gruden calls that cornerback blitz, as promised, will you be ready?

Dalton: (laughs) Yeah, he definitely gave that one away. I'll be ready for it if he's ever coaching again.

Outside expectations aren't very high for the Bengals in 2011. What's your message to naysayers?

Dalton: We’re out to prove everybody wrong. I think everybody has a negative view of the Bengals, but we're kind of a new squad here. We've got a lot of young guys and a lot of guys who are eager to get out and play well. I think having that attitude and a new offense is really going to be good for the players we have here. Everybody is excited about the season, and we should be ready to go.

What are your thoughts on Carson Palmer's situation and taking over a seat he left behind?

Dalton: I haven’t worried about it. Carson left for his own reasoning. But it left an opportunity for a job to be open here. Carson is Carson. I'm not trying to be Carson. I'm trying to be me. I'm trying to bring my style of play to the Bengals organization. Hopefully, I help this team win a lot of ballgames.

You’ve been praised for your natural leadership ability. Where does that come from?

Dalton: I’ve had great parents and great family around me, so I was raised well. And the football programs I’ve been a part of -- my high school team and at TCU -- leadership has been a big thing. Playing quarterback you're automatically put in a leadership position. It's something that you have to get used to and embrace. Every team is different. Every team needs a different style of leadership.

What's your scouting report on Bengals receivers A.J. Green and Jerome Simpson?

Dalton: They're two explosive players. You don’t always have to put the ball in the right spot and they will go make the play. They have a lot of talent. It’s going to be a lot of fun to be throwing to them for a while.

I’m not sure you know this, but three starting quarterbacks in the AFC North (Dalton, Joe Flacco, Ben Roethlisberger) got married this offseason. Coincidence?

Dalton: (laughs) I don't know. I guess we all found "The One." It's a random thought, I guess.

You and Colt McCoy are two Texas natives and are now drafted to rival Ohio teams. How do you envision this rivalry?

Dalton: I know him just a little bit. He seems like a really good guy and it's going to be fun to play against him. I played against Colt once in college. So it’s going to be fun to go against him twice a year, hopefully for a while.