GEORGETOWN — Talk about a crash course.
Two weeks after reporting to training camp, the Cincinnati Bengals will knock helmets with the Detroit Lions.
Second-round draft pick Andy Dalton will start at quarterback in Friday night's exhibition at Ford Field.
A lockout that meant no mini-camps or organized off-season workouts has put a premium on learning lessons quickly at a training camp with a decidedly different feel.
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"I think it will be interesting to see how we feel after we play the game and how you evaluate where things are," Coach Marvin Lewis said before Tuesday's workout. "Particularly with some of the younger players who don't get quite as much time in practices, and seeing them go out there and play and be able to compete against people with different color helmets and jerseys on as opposed to the everyday practice routine. I think that will be the fun evaluation part of this first week."
While Dalton will get the start, Lewis said his plan is to use all four of his quarterbacks. The Bengals added free-agent Bruce Gradkowski two weeks ago and return backups Jordan Palmer and Dan LeFevour.
The most intense focus, though, will be on Dalton, out of Texas Christian University.
If all goes well in the pre-season, he is in line to do what Carson Palmer did not do as a rookie — be the team's regular-season leader.
Different players, different circumstances, Lewis said.
"The football team when I took over here in 2003 couldn't afford to lose games because of the quarterback," Lewis said. "And they had a guy who had been in this seat who a lot of players felt very, very comfortable with. We evaluated the things Jon (Kitna) had done; Jon had done some good things. So it was a different situation.
"This football team now is put together differently. They're tough, they're physical, they know how to go out there and compete. I didn't know those things coming in in 2003. I know what this team's made of now. ... Had Carson been head-and-shoulders above Jon at that point, he'd have been the starting quarterback. But at that point, he wasn't. There were things he needed to see.
"Andy comes in here with a different situation. He's been in an offense that's thrown the ball quite a bit. He's been in that situation. He's handled it all the way through his career."
A two-time Offensive Player of the Year in the Mountain West Conference, Dalton led TCU to 42 career victories. That's a league record, as are Dalton's 11,925 yards of total offense. He completed 812 of 1,317 career passes for 10,314 yards and 71 touchdowns. He also ran 413 times for 1,611 yards and 22 touchdowns.
With a new offensive coordinator, Jay Gruden, the Bengals have a new offense to learn.
In that regard, Dalton has led the way by being "the guy that our offensive coaches have coached the most this off-season," Lewis said. "So he came in here with a little heads up on the other quarterbacks, other than Bruce, who had been in (Gruden's) system before."
Lewis said that starters will play "a little bit longer than they would in the past."
What he's looking for amounts to football basics.
Play fast. Play physical. Avoid mental errors.
■ In addition to Gradkowski, who was with the Raiders last season, Cincinnati's free-agent acquisitions include linebackers Thomas Howard (Raiders) and Manny Lawson (49ers), cornerback Nate Clements (49ers), guard Mas Jean-Gilles (Eagles) and tight end Bo Scaife (Titans).