Our preview of former players from Alabama in the NFL has only seen big blockers so far. However, we move on from the offensive line today and put our focus on some other former offensive stars from Tuscaloosa. A.J. McCarron and Brad Smelley played together during their time at Alabama and were major factors in the success of the Crimson Tide. They always had great chemistry and had one of their best games together against Auburn in 2011. They are now separated and are fighting for their roster spots in the NFL.
AJ McCarron, Cincinnati Bengals, Quarterback
6’3″, 210 pounds
3 years, $2 million
A.J. McCarron is a name that everyone in Tuscaloosa knows. He started for three years at quarterback and won two national championships. McCarron didn’t play in a game last year for the Bengals but was a late addition to the 53-man roster after going through rehab for a shoulder injury. McCarron is back in good health and is listed as Cincinnati’s number two quarterback headed into the 2015 season, meaning he could see significant playing time in the four preseason games.
The Bengals’ coaching staff has only had good things to say about McCarron during the last two weeks of training camp. However, another injury bug hit McCarron during practice on Monday and he is listed as day-to-day, meaning he could miss the preseason opener Friday night against the New York Giants. McCarron says the latest injury has nothing to do with his shoulder and that he wants to play but he will take the advice of the team doctors.
The Bengals will once again be competing in the NFC North division. A.J. Green, Mohamed Sanu and Giovani Bernard lead a loaded offense to add to an impressive defense. If Andy Dalton slips up or gets hurt, we could see A.J. McCarron as a playoff quarterback in January.
Brad Smelley, St. Louis Rams, Tight End
6’2″, 235 pounds
2 years, $1.1 million
Brad Smelley was a seventh-round draft pick by the Browns in 2012 after having a great senior season in Tuscaloosa. Since then, it seems like Smelley has been looked over by teams, coaches and even quarterbacks. In his two NFL seasons, he has played in four games and caught one pass for three yards. Last year, Smelley was on the Rams’ practice squad and will be pushing to find a spot on the 53-man roster in 2015.
St. Louis had five tight ends on their roster last season and Smelley is currently sitting in the sixth spot. He is also dealing with an injured hand so it may be difficult to make improvements when he can’t get on the field. Either way, Smelley seems to have found a home in St. Louis and we can always expect the best puns from those fans.
Cody Mandell, Punter and Brian Vogler, Tight End
Both of these players were listed on our original calendar for this preview but have both been cut in the last week. Mandell was cut after losing the starting punting job to Tim Masthay and Vogler was waived by the Bears after injuring his foot during training camp.
Caleb Turrentine is a contributor at Touchdown Alabama Magazine. Follow him on Twitter, @CalebTurrentine.