Bengals give new QB a meaningful number
CINCINNATI – Finished answering questions in front of all the television cameras, quarterback Andy Dalton stole a private moment with new Bengals teammate Dontay Moch.
Dalton reached into the pocket of his black pants, pulled out his cell phone and handed it to the Nevada linebacker, asking him to snap a photo. Then, Dalton smiled and held up his new tiger-striped jersey, the one with No. 14 across the back.
No Bengals quarterback has worn No. 14 since Ken Anderson, who led Cincinnati to its first Super Bowl in the 1981 season. The only other player to get it since then was receiver Maurice Purify, who played five games in the 2009 season. Otherwise, the number has been revered and reserved in Cincinnati.
From the start, Dalton carries a lot on weight his back.
The Bengals chose Dalton in the second round on Friday, and brought him to town a day later to make the rounds and get acquainted with the staff. He also got to do the ceremonial posing for photos with his new jersey. His old number from Texas Christian has new meaning in Cincinnati.
"Kenny Anderson — I don't know a lot about him, but I know he played here for a long time and was very successful," Dalton said. "So it's great to get No. 14. My best friend's wife's dad went to high school with Kenny Anderson and they were friends."
Now, they have a numerical link.
Anderson was a third-round pick from Augustana in 1971, when he played behind Virgil Carter. He took over the next season and led the franchise to some of its finest moments, back in the days when they won regularly with founder Paul Brown running the show.
Dalton's situation is totally different.
He and receiver A.J. Green are the focal points of Cincinnati's replacement draft — choosing players who are expected to take over for moving-on stars. Green, the fourth overall pick, is expected to take over for Chad Ochocinco. Dalton will get a chance to move into Carson Palmer's spot — the franchise quarterback has thrown in the towel on a team with only two winning records in the last 20 years.
Will the Bengals satisfy Palmer's trade request? Will he retire if he's not dealt? Can they reach some compromise, perhaps Palmer staying for a season while Dalton learns the offense? Will the lockout prevent Dalton from learning the offense and playing as a rookie?
"Everybody knows about the current situation with Carson Palmer," Dalton said. "As far as I know, it's open (competition). We're trying to figure out who will be the guy, and I'm looking forward to it."
After getting a few photos on his cell phone — he also had Moch take one of him and fiancee Jordan Jones — he walked through the locker room, moving briskly pass Palmer's locker at the far end of the football-shaped room, which still houses his gear.
Dalton has to try to get in touch with teammates he doesn't know but will soon try to lead. He got a text message from Green after he was picked and a congratulatory phone call from second-year receiver Jordan Shipley. Most of his new teammates on offense spent last week in California working out with quarterback Jordan Palmer, whose status also is unclear now.
The NFL's reinstated lockout means Dalton won't be able to spend time with coaches learning the offense, hurting his chances to start as a rookie. Any workouts with teammates will come at his initiative away from Paul Brown Stadium.
"I'd have to figure out what's going on and where guys are and what they're doing," Dalton said. "But that's definitely an option.
"I'm just ready to get in and get to work. The whole lockout situation — I don't know what's going to happen."
The Bengals spent three of their first four picks on offense, taking guard Clint Boling from Georgia in the fourth round.