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Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton still a few weeks from returning to action

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It's possible Dalton may have gotten his cast off on Tuesday, but he's still a few weeks away from playing a game in the NFL, per reports.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Silver of NFL Network spoke with Andy Dalton over the weekend and said the Bengals quarterback was hoping to get his cast off yesterday (on Tuesday). As of the time of publishing this story, it's unknown if the cast did in fact come off as the team had the day off yesterday.

Dalton fractured his thumb on December 13 in a Week 14 matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers at home in Cincinnati. On arguably one of his worst plays of the year, Dalton targeted Giovani Bernard on a running back screen, which was read perfectly and intercepted by Steelers defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt. Dalton clipped Tuitt's legs to make a tackle, limiting his ability to take the ball back and jammed his thumb hand into Tuitt's knee, causing the fracture.

Dalton injury

Dalton isn't enjoying his time on the sidelines and desperately wants back in on the football action. Silver said Dalton has been playing some scout team safety in practice, while tucking his right hand into his shirt and breaking up balls with his left hand.

Per Silver, if the Bengals get a playoff bye, it would be possible, not definite, that Dalton could return for the Divisional Round. If the Bengals play in Wild Card weekend and are able to win a playoff game with AJ McCarron, once Dalton gets healthy enough to return, he will, regardless of how well McCarron plays.

The hope is for Dalton to begin playing with a rubber ball once he gets his cast off, and a week after that, to begin playing around with an actual football and seeing how he responds, according to Silver.

Additionally, before Monday night's game, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport corroborated the report, stating Andy Dalton is still a few weeks away from returning to game action, his bone is not completely healed, and he likely will not be available to play until the Divisional Round of the playoffs.