The Cincinnati Bengals reportedly have reached out to quarterbacks Ryan Mallett and Christian Ponder following Sunday's game when Andy Dalton fractured the thumb on his throwing hand while making a tackle in the first quarter.
Dalton, who will miss at least one game, was meeting with a hand specialist Monday to determine the extent of the injury.
ESPN, citing anonymous team sources, reported that Dalton will miss the rest of the regular season, with the best-case scenario being a return in the playoffs.
"It's unfortunate that it happened at this point in the season," Dalton said after Sunday's 33-20 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. "I'll do everything I can to get back as quick as I can to help this team. I'm doing fine. There are people way worse off than I am."
The injury occurred when Dalton tackled Steelers defensive end Stephon Tuitt after throwing an interception. The Bengals quarterback said he wasn't immediately aware of the extent of his injury.
"I tried to grip a ball on the sideline and thought it was just a bruise I could (play) through," Dalton said. "But I went in and got the X-ray."
A.J. McCarron becomes the starter and is the only other quarterback on the active roster. The Bengals have Keith Wenning on the practice squad.
McCarron, who had just four career pass attempts, replaced Dalton on Sunday and went 22 of 32 for 280 yards and two touchdowns along with two interceptions. McCarron will make his first NFL start this Sunday at San Francisco.
Mallett and Ponder were contacted by the Bengals, but no decision has been reached, a source told Pro Football Talk. Ponder was recently released by the Denver Broncos. Mallett recently worked out for the Baltimore Ravens and was cut by the Houston Texans earlier in the season.
Jason Campbell, who was the Bengals' backup last season, retired last summer and has previously said he is not interested in a return.
It was a disastrous Sunday for the Bengals, whose hopes of securing the top overall seed in the AFC took a hit with Dalton and tight end Tyler Eifert leaving the game with injuries.
Eifert was placed under the concussion protocol after taking a hard hit to the head during the Bengals' opening drive from Steelers safety Mike Mitchell, who was flagged for hitting a defenseless receiver. Linebacker Vontaze Burfict went to the locker room and was evaluated for a head injury in the second half.
"We've obviously had some injuries," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said after the game. "We've been fortunate all year. We'll see how it goes during the week."