INDIANAPOLIS _ New Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson huddled with the local media Saturday at the NFL Scouting Combine and says he's as comfortable as he can be with Andy Dalton as his quarterback after several phone calls and texts.
NFL rules prevent the passing of football information at this point in the season but as Jackson says they're talking about a wide variety of topics and he's excited about Dalton's excitement.
"I like what Andy brings to the table for us. Andy can do it all," Jackson said. "Andy can do it all. I haven't seen anything he can't do. He ran the ball last year. He obviously threw it all over the yard. He ran our team."
Jackson says they're not looking to draft a quarterback early ("We've got a starting quarterback"), but he says one in the later rounds could surface and believes there are guys taken at that point that are going to have good careers. He's not worried about how Dalton is going to handle that potential competition.
"I don't think you can ever worry about competition," Jackson said. "This is a performance-based business. Guys have to play and normally if you play, you get paid. That's the nature of our business."
SLANTS AND SCREENS
Thanks to Bengals' two-time Pro Bowl tackle Geno Atkins, it's now OK for a defensive tackle to be short. Of course, you have to be a strong as Atkins and Pittsburgh's Aaron Donald is strong enough that he's being compared to Atkins at this week at the NFL Scouting Combine. And, maybe thanks to Atkins, a fourth-rounder in 2010, he's a borderline first- and second-rounder.
During his media availability on Saturday the 288-pound Donald, a shade under 6-1 said Atkins is his favorite player.
"It's an honor even to be compared to a player like that," Donald said.
Donald won't have to do much here to jack his draft value. He did that last month at the Senior Bowl when he tossed through the air Baylor tackle Cyril Richardson, a mere 6-5, 345-pounder...
That 35th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft is one of the more memorable in Bengals history, since they took quarterback Andy Dalton and haven't missed the playoffs since. The 49ers took Colin Kaepernick with the next pick and he's taken them to a Super Bowl and two NFC title games the past two seasons. ESPN's Bill Polian, then in his last draft with the Colts, says that's how Indy had them rated and if he knew how bad Peyton Manning was hurt he says he would have taken Dalton at No. 22
"Maybe I'd still be there," said Polian, who was out after that season. "Frankly, we didn't know how bad Peyton was. It was the lockout year. If we had known we would have made the decision, but we badly needed a left tackle so we took (Anthony) Castonzo. But we didn't find out until a month and a half after how bad he was."
Polian said Dalton didn't get the edge over Kaepernick physically, "but he's got a lot of things going for him." Plus Colts head coach "Jim (Caldwell) liked him." …
Perception never seems to beat reality. Talking about his new head coach, former Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, Vikings general manager Rick Spielman, talked this week about how well Zimmer used his personnel in Cincinnati.
"You look at the corners they had last year. Every time they lost a guy you lose a guy like a Leon Hall guys come out and respond," Spielman said. It doesn't affect the defense. Look what they did with Geno Atkins, a fourth-round pick. But how many guys on that defense are household names? But yet he found a way to get them to play top defense year in and year out regardless if they were names or not."
Actually, Zimmer did a superb job with all kinds of players. According to ESPN.com, the Bengals had the highest paid defense in the NFL this past season that included franchise player Michael Johnson and four first-round cornerbacks…