Dalton 'fine' as he stalks Elway's Mile High turf


Andy Dalton

Updated: 2:50 p.m.

Marvin Lewis gave Andy Dalton the go-ahead, sort of, after Friday's practice, and it looks like Dalton will have a chance to do what only John Elway has done in the last 41 years and he'll get to try it on the master's own Mile High turf Sunday (4:15 p.m.-Cincinnati's Local 12) in Denver.

Since the 1970 merger, according to Elias Sports, Elway is the only rookie starting quarterback who won each of his team's first two games of the season that were on the road.

In each of the first two Broncos games of the 1983 season, Steve DeBerg replaced Elway, the future Hall of Famer, in the second half and led Denver to come-from-behind victories. DeBerg threw a fourth-quarter touchdown pass in Pittsburgh and the next week in Baltimore threw a scoring pass and ran one in to beat the Colts.

Dalton and backup Bruce Gradkowski have already lived up to the first part of the script when Gradkowski came off the bench to throw a fourth-quarter touchdown in Cleveland last Sunday after Dalton left with a bruised wrist.

The Bengals hope it doesn't pan out that way again after Dalton went unlimited in Friday's practice and both he and Lewis indicated he's on target to start.

Lewis said after Friday's practice that Dalton went unlimited and looked "fine." When asked if he'll start Lewis said, "We'll see," but his smile gave it away. On Thursday, Lewis said Dalton will play and Friday he listed him as probable.

And Dalton said Friday morning his bruised wrist has responded and he went out to practice at the Paul Brown Stadium grass fields ready to make every throw. On Thursday he had been kept to the shorter routes.

"I'll be full go," Dalton said. "They limited me a little on what they wanted me to throw. I'll throw it all (today)."

Dalton said he actually threw some on Wednesday, but didn't throw under live conditions until Thursday, when he looked sharp in the first 30 minutes of the workout that was open to the media.

"Trying to get a feel for it and it felt good," he said.

Lost in Gradkowski's heroics was how Dalton smoothly got the Bengals in and out of the huddle without a penalty and turnover in his half of play. But he says that's been the plan all along.

"Bruce did get the save in that one," said Dalton, trying to get Gradkowski's attention at an adjoining locker. "We played well, we ran the ball, we executed the passing game, so that's all we needed to do in that first week.

"I think that's the test every week. Go out and execute, not just for me as a rookie, but every team that is out there playing. It's execution, run what's called, and do the right things."

Dalton, 23, did what every kid quarterback did growing up in the '90s. Asked if he's watched any games from Mile High he said, "I remember watching John Elway."

Now Elway, the Broncos vice president of football operations, is going to be watching Dalton trying to do what only he has done.

Left end Robert Geathers (shoulder) didn't work for the third straight day, but don't count him out as one of those wily veterans that could play after not practicing. Ever since getting over a serious knee injury in 2008, he's played in every game the past two years except for the last game of the 2009 regular season in which the Bengals had already clinched the division. Still, it didn't look good when he was listed as doubtful Friday.

Also doubtful were safety Taylor Mays (knee) even though he went full Friday for the first time and guard Otis Hudson (knee) after he was limited all week.  

If Geathers doesn't go, head coach Marvin Lewis has options. Frostee Rucker and Jon Fanene played end in the base defense during the second half last Sunday and could get the start. Or Carlos Dunlap could get his first NFL start. 

SLANTS AND SCREENS

» According to the NFL, the Bengals had the youngest Opening Day roster in the AFC with an average age of 25.74 years, third youngest in the league. They also have the fewest players 30 years old and older. Cornerback Nate Clements, 32, and safety Chris Crocker, 31, are it.

» The National Weather Service in Wilmington, Ohio is calling for a beautiful day in Denver on Sunday with temperatures around 75 degrees under mostly sunny skies.

» Rookie SAM backer Dontay Moch has been in and out of a boot with his broken foot and still looks to be a couple of weeks away from returning.

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