McCar­ron stays in charge

Ben­gals QB Dal­ton will be at best a backup against Steel­ers

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Joe Kay

cincin­nati» Andy Dal­ton’s pass­ing hand was fi­nally free Tues­day, lib­er­ated from the black cast that has cov­ered his right fore­arm and his spir­its for the past three weeks.

And his coach held out the pos­si­bil­ity he might have a backup role for the Cincin­nati Ben­gals’ play­off game. Call it one for the thumb. Dal­ton ran a couple of plays early in prac­tice Tues­day and threw a pass — with his left hand — be­fore rais­ing his arm in cel­e­bra­tion and head­ing back to the side­line to con­tinue his con­di­tion­ing work.

What are the chances he could be on the ac­tive ros­ter when the Ben­gals host the Pitts­burgh Steel­ers on Satur­day night?

“I’d love to be in there play­ing,” Dal­ton said.

His right thumb will prob­a­bly pre­vent it.

Dal­ton broke the thumb on his pass­ing hand while making a tackle dur­ing the Steel­ers’ 33-20 win over the Ben­gals on Dec. 13. AJ McCar­ron went 2-1 as a starter in the past three games.

Al­though Dal­ton got the cast re­moved Mon­day, he has to re­build the strength in his hand.

Also, he hasn’t prac­ticed in three weeks, leav­ing him rusty — a bad com­bi­na­tion for play­off time. So the Ben­gals are head­ing into the play­offs with McCar­ron as the starter.

“This team’s built for this kind of stuff,” Dal­ton said. “AJ’s go­ing to do a good job when things hap­pen.”

Coach Marvin Lewis in­di­cated Tues­day there’s a pos­si­bil­ity Dal­ton could be ac­tive as a backup, de­pend­ing upon how his hand feels.

The Ben­gals don’t have an ex­pe­ri­enced backup should McCar­ron get hurt. Re­ceiver Mo­hamed Sanu has taken snaps in wild­cat for­ma­tions and could be an emer­gency quar­ter­back.

So McCar­ron will get a chance to over­turn a lot of bad history in his fourth NFL start.

The Ben­gals haven’t won a play­off game in 25 years, the sixth-long­est post­sea­son drought in NFL history. They’re the only team in league history to lose an open­ing-round game four years in a row. And no quar­ter­back with so lit­tle start­ing ex­pe­ri­ence has won a play­off game since 1979, when Gif­ford Nielsen led the Hous­ton Oil­ers to a win at San Diego.

Cincin­nati Ben­gals quar­ter­back AJ McCar­ron had a strong first half against the Bron­cos on Dec. 28 at Sports Author­ity Field at Mile High be­fore Den­ver ral­lied for a 20-17 vic­tory Eric Lutzens, The Den­ver Post

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