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Bengals comfortable enough to promote AJ McCarron as Andy Dalton's primary backup

Backup quarterback AJ McCarron has been impressing the Bengals with his should rehabilitation. So much so that Cincinnati's quarterback structure could be significantly different than originally expected.

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The Cincinnati Bengals are feeling comfortable enough with AJ McCarron's shoulder that the idea of him being Andy Dalton's primary backup, could be more realistic than what was previous thought. In addition to that, the Bengals could navigate throughout the NFL draft for a third-string quarterback at some point (we're thinking that if there's a possibly that another quarterback is signed, it'll be a college free agent... but we've had our share of flat tires on the "Bengals prediction machine"). Those are the conjecturing words from beat writer, Geoff Hobson:

Jason Campbell, last year’s backup, is still unsigned. With Colt McCoy headed to Washington, the veteran crop is so picked over that the Bengals may be content to find that No. 3 quarterback in the later rounds of the April 30-May 2 NFL Draft.

The Bengals seem to be encouraged with the state of McCarron’s throwing shoulder, as well as his approach to the offseason that includes three scheduled visits with Dr. Tom House, the noted quarterback guru working at USC.

If the Bengals move forth with McCarron as their primary backup... Cincinnati will break a relationship streak that dates back several years. If the backup quarterback isn't the brother of the starter, then the backup played under Jay Gruden (Josh Johnson and Gino Gradkowski) or Hue Jackson (Jason Campbell). If anything, that's the best news.

Talk about change. This is a much different tone compared to Hobson's mailbag (aka, opinion) two months ago :

After Marvin Lewis’ comments last week, I just don’t see them addressing the quarterback situation this year. Maybe next year is a different deal, but the only thing that may change is the veteran No. 2 if Jason Campbell decides he wants to go somewhere and have a chance to play. At least at the start of the season, A.J. McCarron last year’s fifth-round pick, has no chance of being the backup and they’ll be looking for a vet if it’s not Campbell.

In Hobson's defense... the concerns regarding McCarron aren't with his physical talent nor his mental makeup -- rather a preexisting shoulder condition that he's had since his final season with Alabama.

In a way, these developments aren't really that.

Lewis was asked about McCarron during his press conference at the NFL Scouting Combine. He didn't hold back his overall "excitement".

"I will tell you that we are excited about him for the future. He didn't get any opportunity to play at all this year. He didn't get to practice the last six weeks, including the playoff week," said Lewis.

"I tried to do things in practice during the week to get AJ opportunity to do real football so he wasn't just working against our defense. I wanted him to have an opportunity to work within the game-plan and I think he has a great mind for football. We think he has the ability to be a good NFL quarterback and passer. Obviously he has the competition nature, the makeup of guys that have been very productive in the NFL. So I am excited about AJ and his future. He’s one of our reserve quarterbacks so hopefully the opportunity gets a little limited right now."

As for McCarron, he'll continue doing what's expected of him.

"I never want any controversy. I want us to both to go out and compete and try to make each other better," McCarron said earlier this month. "When the season comes around, it's my job to support him and help in whatever way I can. Good comments from coach [Marvin Lewis] are great but Andy's still the starter and I'm working my way to hopefully get there some day."