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Marvin Lewis praises AJ McCarron's leadership in the huddle

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Cincinnati Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron, who is projected as the team's primary backup, will make his NFL debut this Monday against Tampa Bay.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati Bengals backup quarterback AJ McCarron is a "good leader in the huddle", head coach Marvin Lewis said on Friday. McCarron, projected as the team's primary backup, is expected to make his NFL debut this Monday in Tampa Bay.

Since being drafted in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL draft, McCarron believes he's improved as a passer. Writes Bengals.com:

"For sure,' McCarron says when asked if he's a better quarterback now than then. "Knowing more, but at the same time you're trying to evolve every year and trying to master your craft as much as possible from throwing the ball to just knowing the game more. It's two different types of games, college and here."

McCarron spent his "rookie" season on the team's Physically Unable to Perform list until December (shoulder tendinitis), when he was activated onto the 53-man roster. Despite being a third-string quarterback, standing behind starter Andy Dalton and backup Jason Campbell, McCarron didn't receive many repetitions during the final months of the regular season.

Compounding the durability question, McCarron suffered a rib injury last week, which forced him to miss the preseason opener against New York and several practices leading up to the game.