‘Andy’ actually is just fine for the ‘Red Rifle’

It won’t be long before Andy Dalton has a cult-like following in Cincinnati — if he doesn’t already have one. Exceeding all expectations during a 5-2 start will do that for any rookie QB.

As the face of the newfound fervor in Cincinnati, Dalton has been dubbed the “Red Rifle.” For obvious reasons, there wasn’t a lot of imagination on that one.

Only one problem: Dalton seems very underwhelmed over the moniker.

“It’s all right,” he said Wednesday on “NFL Total Access.” “It seems like everybody is going to find a nickname with ‘red’ or something for my hair. So, the ‘Red Rifle’ is all right.”

Just all right. OK, what does he want to be called?

“Andy,” Dalton responded. “Andy works. It’s just Andy.”

Well played, Andy.

If the 2011 NFL Draft were done over today, it’s quite likely Dalton wouldn’t have lasted until the 35th overall pick to the Bengals, as he did in April. NFL personnel guru Gil Brandt took another look in a re-draft for NFL.com, and he believes the Bills would have chosen Dalton second overall.

Thanks but no thanks, says the politically correct Dalton.

“It’s great to hear that,” said Dalton. “That didn’t happen, but I’ve just been trying to do my best. I’m just trying to get better each week. I was fortunate to end up in Cincinnati with a great situation; I was able to come in, compete and start early. I’m happy where I am.”

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