Cincinnati Bengals quarterback A.J. McCarron, selected in the fifth-round of the 2014 NFL draft, was placed on the team's reserve/Non-Football Injury list when Cincinnati was reducing their roster to the 53-man maximum earlier this year. McCarron had been dealing with a shoulder injury since before he was drafted; thus the inclusion on the NFI list.
Per league rules, players on the reserve/NFI list are ineligible to practice or play through the first six weeks of the regular season. If a player isn't activated after week six, teams have a six-week window (at the end of Week 11) to determine that player's placement for the rest of the season.
Cincinnati can force McCarron to stay on NFI, but that will end his season (ala, similar to IR)... or they can place him on IR. Cincinnati could waive McCarron, facing the risk that another team would submit a claim, and (if he clears) put him on the practice squad. Or they could place him on the 53-man roster (but that seems the least likely). However, they can delay these deadlines if McCarron starts practicing this week. Then the Bengals would have an additional three weeks to decide.
One Bengals.com beat writer believes that Cincinnati will hit every deadline before shutting him down for the season.
McCarron can come off PUP a week from Tuesday and start practicing. Then I’m going to guess after he practices for three weeks they'll put him on season-ending injured reserve and keep rehabbing him. If they activate him after three weeks, that takes a spot away from a team that needs all the non-QB roster space it can get for the stretch run.
Most believe that the team is working to develop McCarron as Andy Dalton's eventual backup quarterback.