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Bengals May Use Read Option Offense With Josh Johnson

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Jay Gruden isn't afraid to use new plays, evident with Mohamed Sanu against the Washington Redskins. Is Cincinnati planning to package Johnson in a read option offense?

Peter Aiken

Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden is familiar with the recently signed quarterback Josh Johnson. Drafted in the fifth round of the 2008 NFL draft, Johnson joined a Tampa Bay Buccaneers team with Gruden helping brother Jon as an offensive assistant. And Gruden likes Johnson.

"The beauty of Josh is that he can execute all parts of our offense because he's smart enough," Gruden told Bengals.com. "Plus, he can do different things than Andy (Dalton) can do and I think that's good to have some diversity behind your No. 1 quarterback.

"He's smart and he's got a big, live arm. He's got a rifle and he can run fast," Gruden said. "I liked him in Tampa. My brother liked him. I think it's a case where he just hasn't had a lot of snaps. He's had a few shots here and there but never a steady diet of work. I'm excited to have him because he can run a lot of plays that are being run in the NFL."

Wait, are we talking the read-option/zone read, last year's niche offense in the NFL?

"We ran it maybe one or two times last year," Gruden said. "We'll see how it goes and where everyone is, but you could definitely see Josh doing some of that. The zone read certainly gets the numbers in favor of the offense. It's good to be able to show something a little different if he was your No. 2 and he had to go into the game. The big thing he has to do is get the basics of what we do first, and then it may be kind of fun to look at."

Cincinnati opened against the Washington Redskins last year in a wildcat formation with wide receiver Mohamed Sanu at quarterback. Reading cover zero, the plan was for Sanu to throw the football, finding wide receiver A.J. Green deep for a 73-yard touchdown. So the Bengals aren't afraid to add a gadget with Andy Dalton not under center (he was flanked out wide during the touchdown against Washington).

Either way, we're intrigued.