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Notes: Gio making them miss; Coaches embrace Dalton

Posted Oct 14, 2013

Giovani Bernard has been everything and more the Bengals wanted.

Remember the ground swell for the Bengals to sign running back Reggie Bush in free agency this past March to add some playmaking to help wide receiver A.J. Green?

The Bengals passed, but drafted an electric running back in the second round and North Carolina's Giovani Bernard has been everything and more they wanted. After Sunday's career-high 72 receiving yards on six catches, he leads all rookies with most yards from scrimmage with 438 and no other rookie is within 100 yards.

And after he made four Bills miss during a 20-yard touchdown play on an improvisational shovel pass, he is now second in the NFL averaging 10.55 yards after his 20 catches.

Second, naturally, to Bush and his 12.5 yards after his 20 catches and the two will see each other this Sunday in Detroit.

For the third time this season, Bernard (50) took more snaps than BenJarvus Green-Ellis (35) on his way to a career-high 15 carries that netted just 28 yards and according to Pro Football Focus now has 215 snaps to BJGE's 199 snaps this season.

SLANTS AND SCREENS

» The man who was second on the Bengals to wide receiver A.J. Green (448) in yards after catch last season, wide receiver Andrew Hawkins (350), is eligible to come back to practice this week. Hawkins, who was tied for 18th in the league in YAC last season, is on injured reserve-recall and eligible to first play in the Halloween game in Miami.

» Green, according to Pro Football Focus, was 10th in the NFL last season in YAC. This year the Bengals leader is wide receiver Mohamed Sanu at No. 19 and Green is 26th.

» In the wake of Cincinnati's 27-24 overtime victory in Buffalo, Monday was reserved for unabashed endorsements of quarterback Andy Dalton after his three touchdown passes extracted the offense from the previous torture of the past two games and took some of the heat off of him.

Leading the charge were his two bosses, head coach Marvin Lewis and offensive coordinator Jay Gruden. After Dalton raised his road record to 12-7, Lewis thought that spoke volumes.

"It says a great deal about his calm, his nerves, his focus and his ability to see through the trees," Lewis said.

Dalton threw a bad interception Sunday, the kind that Gruden calls a "head-scratcher," but he also averaged 8.4 yards per his 40 attempts while completing 65 percent.

"Any time you win on the road and put up those kinds of numbers, man, that's impressive. (Joe) Flacco just went up there a couple weeks ago and threw five picks. Throw the ball 35-40 times and you probably are going to make a bad decision or two. You are not going to be perfect. We are happy with what he did," Gruden said.

"What I was most impressed with yesterday was a lot of the touch passes. Yesterday he threw a nice touch pass to (wide receiver Dane) Sanzenbacher over the middle where he one-handed it. The touch passes on the swing passes were outstanding. He gave A.J. Green a chance on the corner route. Nice and high over the top, which is great to see something we really have been harping on to give it to him up and outside where he can go and get it. He really did some good things."

Lewis is uncomfortable with the Dalton comparisons to other quarterbacks because Dalton started right away while guys like Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees sat for a couple of years.

“And he’s being compared to Matt Ryan, who has done well, and Flacco, who went through a progression," Lewis said of guys that played right away. "Those are all of the guys I watched on tape as we evaluated the quarterbacks. Andy’s doing well. He’s directing our football team. We’re in a good spot and we have to keep going. We can’t recreate history. Those guys created a timeline. Andy has his own timeline going on, and right now it’s pretty good."

But when it comes to comparing Dalton with his predecessor, Carson Palmer, Lewis has no qualms.

Here's a comparison in their first 38 starts. Dalton has a 23-15 record and 12-7 on the road with 55 TDs and 35 interceptions. Palmer was 21-17, 10-9 on the road with 65 TDs and 36 interceptions.

“I don’t know that his predecessor has won these kinds of games week in and week out, you know?" Lewis said. "The ultimate goal we all have is to win the football game, and we wish it could be 10s across the board, but that doesn’t necessarily do it. If we had a 10 last week on defense, we didn’t quite make a 10 yesterday. That’s the way it’s going to be through the NFL. Last week’s recipe is not going to be next week’s recipe."

» A big part of the current recipe is that the Bengals are third-best in the NFL in average time of possession at 32:18 behind only Carolina (33:33) and Houston (33:23).

» Also eligible to start practicing this week as a member of the PUP squad (physically unable to perform) are fullback Chris Pressley (knee) and quarterback Zac Robinson (elbow).

 

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