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Will AJ McCarron Beat Out Andy Dalton In The Preseason After His Solid Debut?

Aaron Doster- USA TODAY Sports

The former fifth round pick of the 2014 NFL Draft sustained shoulder injuries last season; however, Cincinnati’s backup quarterback AJ McCarron looked good in his NFL preseason debut.

He completed 11 of 15 passes for 95 yards, and engineered the Bengals’ lone touchdown drive in the fourth quarter. McCarron improved his mechanics in training camp, and is considered by numerous media outlets to be a potential star in the NFL.

Everything can’t be blamed on starting quarterback Andy Dalton when it comes to Cincinnati’s mishaps in prime time games, yet his decisions have created a good portion of those issues.

Dalton, 27, enters his fifth season with the Bengals. He was selected in the second round (35th overall pick) of the 2011 NFL Draft. Dalton is consistent in the regular season, but his struggles lie in postseason play. He’s winless in four tries with a 57.8 quarterback rating.

Dalton has eight turnovers (six interceptions, two lost fumbles) to just one touchdown in four playoff games. His six-year, $115 million contract sounds good on paper, but could be in jeopardy if he doesn’t produce a deep playoff run for the Bengals this season.

He doesn’t have much experience against NFL defenses, nevertheless McCarron does come from an NFL-like system at Alabama. He faced a solid defense in practice and fierce opposition in the Southeastern Conference.

McCarron guided the Crimson Tide to two national championships and an SEC title in 2012. He accounted for 9,019 career passing yards,  77 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.

Monday night’s preseason game against Tampa Bay was a good start for McCarron.

He showed head coach Marvin Lewis and his staff that can make plays with his arm. Being a leader is nothing new for him, as McCarron compiled a 36-4 record in three years as a starter at Alabama.

McCarron has built chemistry with Cincinnati’s second-team offense.

It will only be a matter of time before the Bengals recognition his potential.

Stephen M. Smith is a senior analyst and columnist for Touchdown Alabama Magazine and SB Nation. You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @ESPN_Future.

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