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Bengals backup QB derby off and running

While the majority of the Cincinnati Bengals were in more of a casual, relaxed mode for the start of OTAs Tuesday at Paul Brown Stadium, the three guys vying to back up Andy Dalton at quarterback are competing hard with each limited snap they get.

“Obviously we’re in a competition, so every day is critical,” said Josh Johnson, who made five starts in three seasons with Tampa Bay before backing up Brandon Weeden in Cleveland last year.

“You want to take steps and show that you can be the guy every day,” Johnson added. “Having a grasp of everything and showing that you can handle the huddle if something happens to Andy is very important, whether it’s day one or the last day.”

Johnson is battling John Skelton, who made 17 starts in three seasons with Arizona, and Zac Robinson, who spent the last two seasons on the Bengals practice squad, to be Dalton’s backup.

“This competition kind of reflects the type of player you’ve got to be,” Skelton said. “You’ve got to be mentally ready at all times. We know here that Andy is going to get the majority of the reps, as he should. Between the three of us behind Andy, you’ve got to take advantage. You might get one rep in one period, and that’s going to be your one rep to put on film.”

At 25, Skelton is the youngest of the trio (Robinson is 26, Johnson 27) and also has the most experience with 610 career pass attempts (Johnson 177, Robinson 0).

And that experience could be just as big of a factor as performance when it comes to evaluating who is best suited to assume the backup role that was vacated in March when Bruce Gradkowski signed with the Steelers.

“We’re going to have to see the efficiency of it and the ability to handle the football team,” Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said. “And to play unnerved, to play where we have confidence and we feel good about what he can do.”

Zeitler spoofed: Despite starting all 16 games last year as a rookie and being ranked as one of the top guards in the NFL by, Kevin Zeitler said it wasn’t until a few weeks ago when he realized he had truly arrived.

“I guess I’ve made it to the big time because people are pretending to be me on the Internet,” Zeitler said. “There’s a fake online dating profile of me out there. Someone on Twitter mentioned it, and my fiancée (Sara) went and found it and was like, ‘What the heck?’ ”

Zeitler, who will marry Sara on July 6 in Wisconsin, contacted Bengals security head Rusty Guy, who got the profile taken down.

“It’s funny, but at the same time I don’t want that being around,” Zeitler said.

Andre absent: Right tackle Andre Smith, who signed a three-year, $18 million contract last month, was not present for the first OTA session Tuesday.

Lewis said the absence was not conditioning related.

“He’s got to deal with some stuff that he has to take care of and when he gets it taken care of he will be back up here,” Lewis said without elaborating further.

Quick hits: Offensive linemen Andrew Whitworth, Clint Boling, Trevor Robinson, Dennis Roland and Travelle Wharton did not participate in team activities Tuesday but were seen getting in work on the rehab field, along with running back Bernard Scott, cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, defensive end Jamaal Anderson and defensive back Robert Sands. … Cornerback Leon Hall did not participate in 11-on-11 drills because of what reported was a torn thumb ligament suffered while lifting. … Cornerback Adam Jones left the field midway through practice, shortly after getting beat by wide receiver Marvin Jones on a deep pass from Andy Dalton. … Second-year safety George Iloka accidentally knocked tight end Tyler Eifert, the Bengals’ first-round pick last month, on the ground when trying to jump a crossing route for an interception. “It was a little bit of a surprise, but I guess that’s just the way it goes,” Eifert said.

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