GEORGETOWN — What amounts to the post-Palmer/Ochocinco era of Cincinnati Bengals football got off to a wet start Saturday.
The scheduled 3 p.m. practice was postponed until 6:40 p.m. because of a thunderstorm that struck only a few minutes after the squad had begun to warm up. The storm also knocked out power for about two hours.
Once back on the field, it didn't take long for another thunderbolt to strike, this time under fair skies.
Linebacker Roddrick Muckelroy went down. He later posted on Twitter that he had suffered a season-ending ruptured Achilles' tendon.
"My season over b4 it could even start!" he tweeted. "I'm a strong person though. I can get pass this hard spot in life."
For the duration of practice, though, eyes naturally focused on the Bengals' top two draft picks, A.J. Green and Andy Dalton. They are heirs apparent to Carson Palmer, the quarterback who is holding true to his promise to retire if not traded, and Ochocinco, the flamboyant receiver who was traded last week to the New England Patriots.
"It was a long first day for them, and I don't think they envisioned getting that many reps," said Jay Gruden, the team's new offensive coordinator. "But it was good for them."
Dalton and Dan LeFevour took all the quarterback repetitions, and Green got plenty of work at wideout. That's because veteran free agents, including quarterbacks Bruce Gradkowski (acquired) and Jordan Palmer (re-signed), are ineligible to participate in drills until Thursday because of the new collective bargaining agreement.
"It was a lot of reps," Green said, "but once the ball is snapped, I've got to forget about being tired and go ahead and go."
The team's No. 1 pick out of Georgia, Green reportedly signed a four-year deal worth $19.8 million, with a $12.8 million signing bonus.
During a 32-game, three-season career with Georgia, he caught 166 passes for 2,542 yards — both ranking third all-time for the Bulldogs. His 23 TD receptions rank second in school history.
"It felt good to get out here, to run around playing football and get my legs back under me," Green said. "I felt I had a good day. Now, just gotta keep working, man."
Gruden liked his first on-field time with the 6-foot-4, 211-pounder.
"I like those big guys who run real fast and catch the ball," Gruden said with a laugh. "He did a great job, and he's just feeling his way, too. Just a great guy to be around so far, and he's learning. He's got a long way to go, but I don't know what more you could ask for in a wideout."
Dalton, Cincinnati's second-round pick, signed Saturday for a reported $5.2 million over four years. He started 49 of 50 games during his career at Texas Christian, completing 812 of 1,317 passes (61.66 percent) for 10,314 yards and 71 touchdowns. He also ran 413 times for 1,611 yards and 22 touchdowns.
"He was a little excited, missed a few throws that he normally hits," Gruden said but added that Dalton looked good for his first time in a pro uniform throwing to new receivers. "I mean, it was impressive, I thought."
Dalton connected on his first seven attempts in an 11-on-11 drill.
"He spit out all the plays correctly and didn't have any trouble in the huddle, no panicking, broke the huddle," Gruden said. "That's a feat in itself when it's all new terminology and he's looking at veteran guys ... . He missed a few throws but, for the most part, he ran the show.
"You can see he's been working out. He's 220 pounds. He's stronger than we last saw him. He's in great shape. His arm looked fresh. I was impressed with him personally but, tomorrow, we'll see if he gets better, and we'll see if he gets better the next day. That's the mark of a great quarterback."
Dalton looked the role of a field general, showing no hint of nerves.
"I felt really good out there today," he said. "I think, with the new offense and stuff, everybody's learning. I feel like I've got a really good grasp compared to some of the other guys, so I'm just trying to help everybody out. I'm trying to show everybody that I've got confidence. I'm going to come out here and do my best."
Dalton hooked up with Green for a couple of long balls, much to the delight of a sparse crowd of about a couple hundred.
"He's an outstanding player," Dalton said. "It's been a lot of fun watching him play college football and now, getting to come in together, he's going to be a real exciting player, and I'm going to find ways to get him the ball.
"He's an explosive player so, when we have a chance to get some shots, we're going to try to take them."
The Bengals announced the signing of sixth-year pro Thomas Howard, a free-agent outside linebacker who comes from the Raiders. A former starter, he played 12 games last season, mostly on special teams. Overall, he has played 76 games, including 62 starts, totaling 390 tackles, seven interceptions, four sacks and 24 passes defensed. In 2007, he led the Raiders with six interceptions and led the AFC in interception return yards with 172.
■ The Bengals reached a deal with free-agent cornerback Nate Clements (49ers), and the team announced the signing of Gradkowski, also a two-year deal for an ex-Raider.
■ The Bengals signed two unrestricted free agents from last year's team in halfback Brian Leonard and safety Gibril Wilson.
■ With Dalton and third-rounder Dontay Moch, a linebacker out of Nevada, coming into the fold Saturday, the Bengals have signed all eight of their draft picks.