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Cast off, Cincinnati Bengals QB Andy Dalton might play

By Jeff Wallner, The Sports Xchange   |   Jan. 7, 2016 at 2:25 AM
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CINCINNATI -- Quarterback Andy Dalton had the cast removed from his broken right thumb on Wednesday and even threw a pass for the first time since the injury, albeit left-handed.

Dalton will not start Saturday night's playoff opener against the rival Pittsburgh Steelers, but coach Marvin Lewis did not rule out the possibility that Dalton could back up AJ McCarron.

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"Andy continues to progress well; he's doing just what he's supposed to do," Lewis said. "We're preparing for AJ McCarron to be the starting quarterback. Whether Andy is the backup or where he is, we'll know down the line."

For now, the Bengals trust that McCarron's steady hand and mistake-free play will help them make a run in the postseason.

Despite being thrust into the starting role when Dalton went down making a tackle against the Steelers on Dec. 13, McCarron has managed to pass for 851 yards and six touchdowns.

Since throwing two interceptions in his relief stint against Pittsburgh, McCarron hasn't thrown a pick in any of his three starts.

The Bengals were considered a Super Bowl contender before Dalton and his 3,250 passing yards and 25 touchdown passes went down. Now it's up to McCarron to lead them.

"I can't worry about what I can't control," McCarron said Tuesday. "Andy's like a big brother to me. I wish him nothing but the best and a fast recovery. But my mindset right now is that this is my offense. I have to take it and go win."

--Linebacker Jayson DiManche was signed Tuesday to the practice squad. DiManche is a third-year NFL player. He played in 28 games for the Bengals in 2013-14 with 13 tackles on defense and 15 on special teams. He also had a blocked punt and a special teams forced fumble. He was waived by Cincinnati in September and later signed by Cleveland, playing in one game before being moved to the Browns' practice squad. He was released by the Browns on Dec. 31.

--Kicker Zach Hocker of Arkansas was signed Tuesday to a reserve/future contract. Hocker will not participate in the postseason and will count on the team's active list beginning Feb. 8, the Monday after the Super Bowl. He played in six games with New Orleans and two with St. Louis in the 2015 regular season.

--Linebacker Dezmond Johnson of Duke was signed Tuesday to a reserve/future contract. The will not participate in the postseason and will count on the team's active list beginning Feb. 8, the Monday after the Super Bowl. Johnson was a 2015 college free agent signee by Tennessee and was with the Titans in preseason.

--Safety Floyd Raven Sr. of Texas A&M was signed Tuesday to a reserve/future contract. He will not participate in the postseason and will count on the team's Active List beginning Feb. 8, the Monday after the Super Bowl. He was with the Bengals in the 2015 preseason as a college free agent signee and spent time in 2015 on the New England practice squad.

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