Tuesday twists: Dalton set to make 50th start; Bodine delivers; Eifert status mulled

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Russell Bodine centered one of the cleanest Bengals outings ever against Baltimore.

Andy Dalton makes his 50th NFL start Sunday in the Paul Brown Stadium 1 p.m. opener against the Falcons and he's got a chance to move up an all-time list.

He comes into the game with 81 touchdown passes, which puts him among the 10 men who have thrown the most touchdown passes in their first 50 NFL starts, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Dan Marino heads the list with 114 and Dalton is tied for seventh with Marc Bulger. Also on the list is Carson Palmer, who threw 90 touchdowns in his first 50 games with the Bengals, for the fourth most all-time.

He becomes the fifth quarterback to make 50 starts for the Bengals, joining Ken Anderson (172), Boomer Eisason (123), Palmer (97) and Jef Blake (66).

Dalton's last touchdown pass, the 77-yarder to A.J. Green with 4:58 left in last Sunday's 23-16 victory in Baltimore, also gave Dalton the 11th game winning drive of his career in the fourth quarter or overtime.

It came courtesy of his brain as much as his arm and the fabulous hands and feet of A.J. Green. With Dalton sensing a blitz to his right off the slot from cornerback Asa Jackson, Dalton set the protection before the snap and had right tackle Andre Smith gobble up the 182-pound Jackson. Plus, he was able to set the protection so they had five blocking five, allowing running back Giovani Bernard to be open over the middle for a possible check-down pass.

A total of 13 quarterbacks have 11 winning drives in their first 50 games, but Andrew Luck is probably going to pass them all. He has 10 in his first 33 games.

PLAYERS WITH MOST TD PASSES IN FIRST 50 GAMES: Marino 114, Warner 101,  Peyton Manning 91, Unitas 91, Palmer 90, Stafford 88, Rypien 85, Krieg  85, Bulger 81, Dalton 81 (after 49 games).

BODINE DELIVERS: Seems like no matter who you ask, his coaches, his teammates, and even grading web sites, Bengals rookie center Russell Bodine came out of his first NFL start in good shape.

In one of the NFL's most inhospitable arenas and against one of it stingiest defensive fronts, Bodine centered a no-sack effort last Sunday that resulted in no turnovers in one of the cleanest offensive games a Bengals offense has ever played against Baltimore.

"This year's fourth round pick had a tough test against an excellent interior Ravens front but can be pretty happy with his performance," graded profootballfocus.com. "There were some mistakes, especially in the run game (-1.3) but a perfect day in pass protection gives him something to build on."

Like everyone else, Bodine allowed no sacks, but he did have a holding call against Ravens nose tackle Brandon Williams in pass pro.

"I feel like there's things I could do better," Bodine said. "I'm not going to be satisfied until I'm perfect, and it's not ever going to be perfect, so maybe I'll just walk about grumpy until the end of my career. I think you have to have that expectation. You have to strive to be perfect. Is that attainable? Maybe not. But that's what I'm going to do."

Bodine blamed himself for quarterback Andy Dalton not getting in on a quarterback draw on third-and-goal from the 4 in the first quarter.

"We were changing plays and I just got beat. That's all there is to it," Bodine said. "We were checking the play and they were doing something different than I expected and I got beat. There's not much I can say about that."

But he can say what offensive coordinator Hue Jackson said. He belonged and he was able to dole it out physically against one of the more rugged lines in the league. Not exactly the ACC of his North Carolina club.

"It's different, but we played some guys in the preseason, too. (The Chiefs' Dontari) Poe and the Jets defensive front. So by no means did I go in there and feel overwhelmed," Bodine said. "It's not the physical part that gives me some struggle. It's still the learning curve. And like I said, I'll just keep the same attitude and try not to make the same mistake twice and keep going in the right direction."

But he had to admit that getting the first one under his belt provided some relief.

"I'll keep hammering on this: to go up there on the road and first time in a few years, to my understanding, that we've won up there, that's obviously a big deal," Bodine said. "To go up there and get the first one out of the way and come out on the right end of it, it's a good start."

 EIFERT STATUS: The Bengals are apparently still mulling the status of tight end Tyler Eifert, feared to have a dislocated elbow. One possibility is putting him on injured reserve-recall and he could be back for the 10th game.


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