All eyes have been on Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, on and off the field this offseason. Still, his contract negotiations have been just that. What he could control on the field makes everyone around the building more comfortable shelling out the cash.
"I think he's throwing the ball fantastic," offensive coordinator Hue Jackson said. "I really do. He's improved. I see it. I see it on the practice field."
It's hard not to be optimistic in shorts in June at the first day of minicamp. Everyone looks great this time of year, it seems, and a few impressive practices don't shadow one touchdown to six interceptions in three postseason losses.
But the chatter among coaches and players has been of Dalton leaving an impression on them during the offseason program. His command is noticed. His control of the team is noticed. The compact power of his throw is felt by receivers after an offseason spent working with quarterbacks guru Tom House.
"The ball comes out quicker," Jackson said. "There's more urgency in his body. I just think all the way around he's improved. But we've got to keep improving. Again, we have a lot more practices before we get ready to play a game. So I'm excited about what the upside is, but I know we've got to go get there. We've got to keep chasing it every day to get there."
Dalton has found himself at home leading an offense where Jackson focused all energy on increasing the tempo. The speed can be seen by the naked eye and felt by the defense. Always strong with the mental aspect of the game, Dalton is able to let his strengths shine.
Coaches laud his ability to make the correct adjustments at the line and feed the proper spot consistently. Dalton finds comfort in the setup.
"Hue told me he wants to get the play in so he can start talking trash to the defense and not have to worry about it," Dalton said. "The rest of it is on me, getting guys lined up and everything. And that's how it should be. In a game-time situation, the quarterback is the one on the field getting guys lined up and everything, if it's not right. So Hue tries to create that atmosphere in practice."