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Bengals react to Andy Dalton's injury, AJ McCarron stepping up

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A.J. Green, Marvin Jones and Andrew Whitworth talk about the impact going forward with AJ McCarron filling for Andy Dalton while he deals with a thumb injury.

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

When AJ McCarron took over for an injured Andy Dalton on the Bengals' second offensive drive against the Steelers, it wasn't a moment anyone had anticipated heading into the game.

"He wasn't game planning and he didn't know what was going on sometimes, but he handled it pretty good,"A.J. Green said of McCarron after the game. "Next week he's going to be ready."

When asked his reaction to Dalton leaving the game, Green said it hurts.

"It's just the way of the game. It's just the way the NFL works." Green said. "It's a physical game. It hurts to see a guy like that go out with the season he's having. It hurts us too, because he's our commander back there."

Still, Green believes McCarron will do well and says the Bengals will be fine. "Next man up with AJ. He's a winner. He went to Alabama, so he's used to the big stage. I think he'll be ready." He continued in saying, "He prepares so well. When you prepare like him, you're just out there having fun."

Andrew Whitworth was impressed by McCarron as well. "He shows that he has nothing timid about him. He goes in there and he makes the throws and competes his butt off," Whitworth said after the game. "Whether he was really thinking he would play today or not — most backups probably don’t think that, even though they prepare that way every week — he has a great attitude and a great charisma about him in the huddle. That’s one of those things people said about him when he came out, and I think he continues to show that."

Whitworth remains confident about the team moving forward. "AJ can make the throws, he can direct the offense, and we still have all the talent around him, so I think we’re still good," he said. But, he also knows the whole team will need to play well in the final games of the regular season with McCarron at the helm. "It’s not going to be that just he has to play great. If we don’t play well around him we won’t have success," Whitworth said. "Today wasn’t good enough for anybody, not just AJ McCarron."

Defensive players like Michael Johnson also spoke highly of McCarron after the game on Sunday. "AJ’s going to come in, and he’s going to do a great job," Johnson said. "We have full faith in him. That’s why he’s here. Everybody’s here for a reason, and has a job to do. Today they got the best of us, but we will be back."

Wide receiver Marvin Jones shared a similar sentiment. "I felt bad. [Andy's] our quarterback and we love him. He’s having such a tremendous season. It definitely hurt, but at the same time we have games to win," Jones said. "We’re still a great team and we trust that AJ’s going to come in and lead us... You don’t win National Championships for no reason. We know that he has the capability to lead us and we’re going to stand by him."