With coaches and teammates watching, rookie quarterback Logan Woodside dropped back to pass on the Cincinnati Bengals' practice field.
Woodside — the former Franklin County and Toledo star and seventh round NFL Draft pick lauded for his record-setting passing accuracy — spied his target, aimed and fired. The pass didn't come close. The ball was thrown, batted and sputtered to the ground just a few feet from Woodside. Andy Dalton laughed.
Dalton, a three-time Pro-Bowler and the Bengals' starting quarterback, had smacked Woodside's pass out of the air with a four-foot-long plastic training aid. Woodside laughed, too.
The drill, which included all four of the quarterbacks on the Bengals' roster, involved one QB passing while two others tried to block his vision — not the ball — with the long, plastic pads. Dalton, looking to have a little fun, adjusted his pad just enough to send the rookie's pass into the grass.
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"Andy does that on purpose for sure," Woodside said after Tuesday's offseason practice. Before being drafted, Woodside said he'd wanted to go to a team where he could get a "big brother-little brother" dynamic with a veteran quarterback. In a crowded Bengals quarterback room, Woodside certainly has more than one older brother, even if it means he has to compete with them for a roster spot.
Dalton will likely be backed up by Matt Barkley, who started six games for the Bears in 2016. Jeff Driskel, an untested young quarterback the team picked off waivers, is probably Woodside's competition for the third-string job.
Woodside is no stranger to competing for a roster spot. In high school, after failing to earn the starting job, he transferred from Anderson County to Franklin County where the Flyers averaged more than 50 points per game with Woodside throwing the ball. In Toledo, after a successful sophomore year, Woodside was red-shirted when the previous starter returned from injury.
"I just got beat out twice. That's the honest truth," Woodside said in April about his time in Toledo.
In his upperclassman years, Woodside would go on to set school records for career passing yards (10,514), touchdowns (93) and passing efficiency (162.87).
"I've been competing my whole life. I've not been the starting quarterback. I've been beat out," Woodside said on Tuesday. "I'm competing for the second string, I'm competing against Andy. I just think that I'm going to try to do everything I can each and every day to just find a spot on the roster."
Getting drafted by a team less than a two hour drive north of his hometown, Woodside said he's been able to spend his weekends at home with family. He said he's got plenty of fans in central Kentucky and "I got a lot of haters, too, especially in Lawrenceburg."
"I go back there on purpose just because it's my home," Woodside said. "And, people, they're going to say negative things about you, but I try not pay any attention to it and I try not to be around those people and do what I can to be successful."
Part of his path to success has been learning a far more complex NFL offense. Woodside said that the spread offense he flourished in at Toledo doesn't necessarily translate to the professional game.
"I don't think they set you up for success as much with a spread offense coming into a pro-style type of offense," Woodside said. "It's been an adjustment, still continuing to learn with that each and every day, but I'm definitely picking it up."
He's also been doing his best to learn from the quarterbacks in front of him. Woodside said that Driskel, his closest competition, has been one of the most helpful. Dalton, too, is setting a professional standard that Woodside is doing his best to emulate.
"Right now, I'm trying to do everything Andy does," he said. "I think that I got an unbelievable quarterback in front of me and it's my fault if I don't learn from him. Every little thing that he does, I try to take up on and do exactly how he does it."
In a new league with a new team, Woodside has tried to succeed with everything that's given to him. On Tuesday, that meant getting little-to-no reps with the starting offense, going last in many drills and even taking a few snaps lined up at safety on the scout team defense.
"I'll do whatever it takes to be on this team," he said. "Whether that's getting my ball blocked by Andy or being a safety on the scout team, I don't really care. I just want to make sure that this team is prepared to go out and win games and ultimately that's what I'm doing."