John Skelton never played in a West Coast offense before. He’d never heard a word of Jay Gruden’s system before arriving in Cincinnati one in which every check adjustment and protection comes through the quarterback. He joined a core of players almost all returning for a second or third year in the scheme.

He acknowledges his learning curve has been steep. He also acknowledges nobody cares. In a five-week battle to back up Andy Dalton his plight matters little.

“They are kind of able to pick up where they left off last season with the momentum they carried and to come in new and you just feel like you are behind the 8-ball” Skelton said. “It’s not an excuse; you have to catch up and find your way to fit in.”

Little by little Skelton carves out his niche. Through the training camp portion of the preseason much of the time unwinds into installation for the entirety of the season. Once a specific plan for that week’s game rolled out the amount of playbook to digest pared significantly.

That was apparent in Skelton’s play against the Falcons. He led a touchdown drive on his first shot including a stick to Dane Sanzenbacher between two defensive backs.

“Once we kind of got the game plan for Atlanta it toned everything down a little bit and really helped me play fast” said Skelton who went 4 of 5 for 72 yards and a touchdown.

The touchdown pass showed off Skelton’s impressive arm. He launched a bomb almost three quarters of the way down the field during Thursday’s practice connecting with Taveon Rogers. Skelton says the last time he measured distance he heaved it about 70 yards in college. At 6-foot-6 250 pounds his physical skills haven’t been an issue.