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Bengals Assistant Coach Kragthorpe Makes Room At East-West Game

Assistant Quarterbacks Coach Brad Kragthorpe
Assistant Quarterbacks Coach Brad Kragthorpe

Bengals assistant quarterbacks coach Brad Kragthorpe has a new title in front of a new room this week at the East-West Shrine Bowl. But it's business as usual for the 31-year-old third-generation coach who has already been in the profession for nearly a decade.

As the East quarterbacks coach for Thursday's college all-star game (8 p.m.- NFL Network) at The Star in Frisco, Tex., Kragthorpe has a star-studded task in the practice facility of the Dallas Cowboys. He has eight days to get three big-time triggermen ready to play in a system he has to learn as well as teach.

But Kragthorpe, heading into his sixth season with the Bengals, can call on a nest of connections to make the week easier.

For instance, the East's offensive coordinator is Drew Terrell, the Arizona Cardinals' passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach. The Cards offensive coordinator, a former Browns quarterbacks coach in Drew Petzing, has just completed his first season after spending the past three years on the staff of Browns offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt, himself a former Bengals quarterbacks coach.

"Ironically, AVP leaves us and goes to Cleveland," Kragthorpe says of that first season he came to Cincinnati in 2019 as an offensive assistant. "A lot of our terminology came with him and it's been a good carryover for myself, it's been nice."

And in another instance, one of the guys Kragthorpe is coaching this week, Kentucky's Devin Leary, arrived already doing some familiar things. It turns out that Leary's OC in Lexington, Liam Coen, worked with Bengals head coach Zac Taylor several years ago with the Rams.

"(Leary) has had a lot of exposure to the stuff we're using this week," Kragthorpe says. "It's kind of an advantage he's had, and he's done a nice job. I think anybody that comes of that system has a little bit of a leg up on the other guys coming out in the draft because they've been exposed to so much NFL offensive football."

Kragthorpe, in the mix to become the Bengals' next quarterbacks coach in an ongoing process to replace Dan Pitcher after he was promoted to offensive coordinator, may be nominated as a Kentucky Colonel after this one. Joining UK's Leary in his room are Western Kentucky's Austin Reed and Louisville's Jack Plummer.

 In the room but not practicing is injured Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis. Not around are Joe Burrow and Jake Browning, the famously smart quarterbacks for the Bengals.

"That helps for sure. Joe and Jake are at the high end of it," says Kragthorpe, the grandson and son of former college head coaches. "You need to learn to coach in different ways based on the guy you're coaching. How much information does he need? And how much information are you able to put on their plate that doesn't overwhelm them? It's always good to have guys on different levels where you can find that balance."

Kragthorpe says he feels comfortable in front of the room because during his five seasons with the Bengals Taylor has given him plenty of opportunities to face groups as well as having a significant role in producing the daily meetings.

But he also knows his responsibilities this week go beyond the quarterback room. He expects the Bengals scouts who were there for the practices over the weekend to pick his brain when he's back in the office.

"My top priority is obviously the quarterbacks and getting them ready for the game," Kragthorpe says. "But I'm looking to get as much information as I can for the total evaluation process. I'm looking at as much as I can."