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Andy Dalton pleased with receiver group despite major changes

The Bengals lost two of their top-three wide receivers this offseason in free agency and added another after the personnel losses, but that's not stopping the team's quarterback in feeling good about the status of the position group.

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It's been a spring full of ups and downs for the Cincinnati Bengals, with the latter occurring because of two major personnel losses on offense. Wide receivers Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu left for big contracts elsewhere, while the team attempted to plug those roster holes with the recent acquisition of Brandon LaFell. Regardless of what the team does in the draft in a few weeks, the receiver group is going to have a much different look than it has over the past four years.

And, if you're asking Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton about it, he still feels good on the outlook of the wide receivers in 2016.

"We lost a couple of guys and brought in some new guys. It’s part of it," Dalton said via on Monday. "When you play longer you’re not going to have the same guys all the time. It comes down to the work we put in in the offseason and making sure everybody is the same page and we feel comfortable in everything we’re doing."

If the current scenario of losing two of the team's top receivers in free agency sounds familiar, it's because the same thing happened to Dalton and the Bengals' offense back before the 2012 season. Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell were on the positional depth chart behind Green in 2011 and were contributors in Dalton's rookie year. Both left in free agency and were replaced by Sanu and Jones in the next year's draft.

"It would be tougher if it was my first or second year, but this is year six," Dalton said of the familiar scenario. "It’s easier for me now than early on in my career. That is going to be fun. We’ve got these guys from the start; we’ve got to get them exactly where we want them to be."

As for the LaFell acquisition, Dalton seems to like it and expects to see the player from 2014 who had 74 catches, 953 yards and seven touchdowns, not the player whose production dipped significantly with the Patriots last year.

"Brandon fits our system and what we’re trying to do," Dalton said. "Not only has he played both (outside and the slot), he’s been on good teams and he’s got a lot of experience. It’s really a great signing by us."

Dalton noted the experience of A.J. Green, Tyler Eifert, Giovani Bernard and Brandon Tate as major keys to the passing game keeping its momentum going under new offensive coordinator, Ken Zampese. He also talked about the importance of the team drafting a rookie "or two" who fit their system and are able to catch up to the NFL pace quickly. And, while Dalton is happy with his current crop of wide receivers, he's also happy for his ex-teammates who got big paydays this offseason, citing them making the right decisions for their respective families.

The sixth-year quarterback is saying all of the right things, but the truth is that this is a major year of transition for him after the departures of Sanu and Jones, as well as a new coordinator calling the plays. It also has to be extremely difficult for the embattled signal-caller to see so many changes after such a great year in 2015 that was cut short due to a thumb injury. Dalton also talked about pushing himself and ways to push his teammates, hoping to continue his high-quality play from last year by getting the most out of his new cast mates.

"I'm just trying to find different ways in different areas to keep pushing myself and pushing all the other guys," Dalton says, adding the Bengals' most recent Wild Card loss to the Steelers isn't something that's going to happen again. "The way the game ended is not how you want any game to end. It's going to make us hungry, make us want to get back there and prove we can win once we get to the playoffs. But there's a long road ahead even before we get back there."