Cincinnati Bengals: Tight Ends Will Bolster Andy Dalton's Game

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COMMENTARY | Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton -- and the offense as a whole -- should be vastly improved in 2013 due to the added weapons at the tight end position.

There is a strong possibility that the Bengals will keep four tight ends -- Jermaine Gresham, Tyler Eifert, Alex Smith and Orson Charles -- on the roster this season. If that is the case, Dalton will have a plethora of weapons at his disposal, while opposing defenses will face matchup nightmares.

During the last practice of mandatory minicamp on Thursday, Dalton completed passes to three of these tight ends during drills near the redzone (via

Dalton completed a pass to Smith down to the one-yard line to set up a first-and-goal. He also completed a beautiful 20-yard pass to Gresham in the back of the endzone for a touchdown. Earlier in the day, Dalton hit Eifert on a 30-yard pass over the middle.

It appears that Dalton is gaining chemistry with his tight ends rather quickly in the early portions of offseason workouts. This could be a great sign of things to come for the Bengals.

Last season, Dalton relied heavily on wide receiver A.J. Green because of the lack of offensive weapons. This year, that looks to change in dramatic fashion.

Not only do second-year receivers Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones have a year under their belts with this offense, they are coming back fully healthy as well. Having a solid No. 2 target across from Green has been one of the major deficiencies of this offense over the past two seasons.

Also, rookie running back Giovani Bernard is now in the picture who is always a threat as a receiver either out of the backfield or split out wide.

Aside from these additions, the Bengals now have a very talented corps of the aforementioned tight ends. These players will allow offensive coordinator Jay Gruden a great amount of schematic options heading into 2013.

The two-tight end set has proven to be a great asset to other NFL offenses (i.e. New England Patriots). Now, the Bengals can implement their own version of this package in the coming season.

Add in the possibility of the no-huddle offense being implemented this season and a very scary system begins to take shape. Gruden had this to say about adding the no-huddle this season (via

"It's a great tool when you have the players that can work it. The addition of those two guys (Eifert and Bernard) will be good. I don't know how much better it will make no-huddle, but better players make a better team whether you huddle or not. I think we have the ability to do it any time. Andy really likes it, so I really like it. It's a matter of communicating the calls the right way, making sure we utilize it properly."

"(Dalton) likes it. He likes the up-tempo stuff, no question about it. So we have to give it to him more."

Not only does Dalton like the no-huddle offense, but he likes his new weapon at the tight end position as well (via

"He's got a real good feel for running routes and getting open. It shows you what he did in college by playing all over the place, whether it is split out wide or in the slot. He's done a lot of the stuff we're asking him to do."

"From Day One nothing has seemed too big for (Eifert). It's like 'You want to go do this, OK I'll go do this.' He does it really well. That's why we picked him with the first pick and he's really well deserving."

Gresham will still be the incumbent starter with Eifert as a secondary option. Smith will be added in certain packages and used as a substitute on occasion. Charles figures to take on an H-back role just as he did while at Georgia.

There could be a time when all four of these players are on the field in a jumbo package. There may not be a defense in the NFL that has the personnel to cover such towering, athletic targets at once.

With Dalton's growing trust in these tight ends, the playbook becomes wide open for the 2013 Bengals. Long gone are the days of Green as the sole target on passing downs. These players will be the catalyst for a vastly improved Dalton -- and Bengals offense -- in 2013.

Sean O'Donnell is a contributor for Yahoo! Sports and a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. He is also the co-host of the Bengals Central podcast on the Pro Football Central radio network. You can follow him on Twitter: @SeanODonnellNFL

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