Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  By KEVIN GOHEEN  |  Last updated 8/15/13
CINCINNATI Hard Knocks takes viewers into the secretiveworld of football, the mind of a coach. Coaches will allow some thoughts tocome out through the media but only to a point. Rarely do you get the fullextent what coaches are thinking like you did in this weeks episode when thesubject of the Bengals backup quarterbacks was featured.Josh Johnson and John Skelton have their positive attributesas they compete to see who will be No. 2 behind starter Andy Dalton. Thisweeks episode showed in blunt detail just what it was the coaches thought washolding the players back. Johnson isnt accurate enough and Skelton needs tolearn the playbook faster. Head coach Marvin Lewis, offensive coordinator Jay Grudenand quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese were honest about their concerns as theyspoke in their meeting room. No doubt the same concerns and points of emphasis havebeen repeatedly expressed to the players, but those are candid criticisms thatare usually kept in-house.Saturdays preseason home opener against Tennessee at PaulBrown Stadium will give the two backups more opportunity to prove they can beDaltons backup.Johnson and Skelton both played well in last Thursdays34-10 preseason opening win at Atlanta; Johnson completed nine of 16 passes for100 yards and one touchdown, adding another 64 yards on four rushes, whileSkelton was 4-of-5 for 72 yards and one touchdown in his brief playing time. Itswhat they do inside the numbers, the finer details, that will decide who winsthe job, and if both make the final roster.Theystill have a ways to go, no question, said Gruden. Josh is really high. Holycow, he makes some big plays, some splash plays. Then sometimes he makes someplays that just want to make you bang your head on the wall. We just have tolimit those plays. Johnjust has to study harder. Hes got to understand the concepts. Hes got to knowthe play before I call it out. When I call a formation, he should know theplay. Its not quite there yet. Its going to take some time. We threw a lot ofoffense in early because a lot of guys were returning, but unfortunately forhim, he wasnt returning. So hes got a lot of catching up to do.Skeltons36-yard touchdown pass to Dane Sanzenbacher in the fourth quarter was anexample of why the Bengals liked him enough to claim him on waivers afterArizona released him. He started 17 games for the Cardinals, including a 23-17Bengals win when the teams played at PBS on Christmas Eve 2011.Hestands back there and is a great pocket passer, has great touch, said Gruden. Wevegot to get him caught up on the terminology. And Ive got to alter my playcalling when hes in there, obviously. Because I want to make sure he gets itright.Daltonhasnt missed a start in his two seasons with the Bengals and just once, in hisfirst regular season game at Cleveland in the 2011 opener, has he been pulledfrom a game because of injury. That kind of luck with quarterbacks doesnt lasttoo often. The priority of the preseason, however, is to get Dalton ready, notto get the backups extra practice snaps.It'sa young team, but it's a veteran team in the fact that a lot of guys have beenhere two or three years, said Skelton. They are kind of able to pick up wherethey left off last season with the momentum they carried and to come in new youjust feel like you are behind the eight-ball. But it's not an excuse you haveto catch up and find your way to fit in.Johnsonand Skelton said they watched the Hard Knocks episode but didnt take the criticismpersonally. Its an hour-long show, so one particularly bad practice daythrowing the ball for Johnson made it appear he was having more such days. ItsTV, said Johnson. I dont get caught up in the whole hype that comes with alot of stuff. My job is to be here and to play football. My job as aquarterback is to go out and move the offense, get completions. As long as Imdoing that on Sundays I could care less about whats being portrayed about me.Thecoaches coach us hard, and personally I like that because it keeps you pushingyourself to push the envelope on your abilities.Daltonand the first team offense will get more time this week against the Titans thanthey did against the Falcons but there has been no announcement on how theplaying time will break down. Johnson followed Dalton in Atlanta but Skeltoncould get the second call this week. Theydont tell you, but realistically thats your life if youre not the starterbecause you never know when youre going to be called upon, said Johnson. Yourjob is to go in there and answer the call. You have to be ready and keep theoffense moving and keep the team going in the direction that the starter had itgoing. Its good preparation.
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