It seems like there's been a campaign.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton will be under center when the Bengals head to Oakland for the 2015 regular season opener (provided he isn't hurt). Most likely he'll play every meaningful snap from now until after the Bengals win the Super Bowl.
In the meantime, AJ McCarron is piecing together an optimistic campaign saying he's ready to become the team's primary backup quarterback.
"I’m excited to finally show them what I can do when healthy. How I can play the game," McCarron said last month. "They haven’t seen the guy they drafted. I feel like I’m a totally new person, even from the time they saw me at the end of last season. I feel like I’m throwing a much better ball. Quickness with pop on it."
"I feel great," McCarron said reiterating his confidence in being healthy to the Cincinnati Enquirer. "Body feels great and I feel like I'm slinging it better than I ever have, really."
McCarron, selected in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL draft, didn't work during training camp last year due to a pre-existing shoulder issue. Coaches and teammates hadn't seen much yet. Once his rehabilitation was completed and his PUP eligibility had expired, the team surprisingly placed McCarron on the team's 53-man roster on Dec. 9 -- he was inactive for the rest of the season.
"He was hurt," Zampese said via Bengals.com. "When you're hurt, you don't feel good. When you don't feel good, you don't project, and a lot of the positives of him are he's able to project to the group. We've got what we thought we had all along. Each throw means something to him. And it shows on his face every time he doesn't think he did it right."
With those issues behind him, McCarron spent the offseason training rather than rehabilitating.
"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 of McCarron during the National Scouting Combine in February.
"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."
With Dalton leading the teams as the starting quarterback and McCarron faced with a "his to lose" situation as the team's primary backup, the Bengals added two more quarterbacks during the offseason in Josh Johnson and Terrelle Pryor. Everyone is working well together, says quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese.
"It’s fun to have a bunch of guys working together because you can feel the Mojo of the unit working together," says quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese via Bengals.com. "There are four guys out here all going at the same time all working and everybody wants to do it right and that’s fun. I think (Pryor’s signing) raised everybody’s (competitiveness). It’s not one or the other. It’s everybody’s. That’s good. It’s really good right now."