GEORGETOWN, Ky. -- The Cincinnati Bengals are wasting no time getting the Andy Dalton era underway.
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said Dalton will be the starter at quarterback in Cincinnati's preseason opener Friday night against the Detroit Lions. It could be the first of many starts for Dalton in a Bengals uniform. He was drafted in the second round in April to replace veteran Carson Palmer, who demanded to be traded and subsequently retired.
"It's a good opportunity for me," Dalton said after Monday night's practice. "I knew once I got drafted here there was going to be an opportunity. I feel I've come out and worked hard and tried to get better each day. That's all I can do right now."
"There's still a lot of camp left, but it means a lot that they would go ahead and put that up there," Dalton said. "I think it just shows that I've been working hard and hopefully I can keep improving and keep my name up there.
"I think it shows they have confidence in me."
The Bengals may keep Dalton and the first team on the field longer than usual, according to Lewis. Cincinnati is in the process of learning a new West Coast offense.
"We haven't had all the offseason work that you normally would have," Lewis said. "So I think we need to play together as a football team on both sides of the ball."
Dalton's chances at winning the starting job are greater than Palmer's were in his rookie year.
The Bengals went 8-8 behind Jon Kitna that season, Lewis' first with the Bengals. Palmer took over the next year. Lewis said Dalton will get a chance to start his rookie season because the circumstances are different.
"Had Carson been head-and-shoulders above Jon, he would have been the starting quarterback," Lewis said Tuesday. "But at that point, he wasn't. Andy comes in here in a little different situation.
"The team is put together differently right now. There isn't a veteran quarterback on this team that has been here and been part of these guys. They are all learning an offense that was different than the past. We are all starting from scratch."
James Walker covers the AFC North for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.