Wednesday, December 16, 2015, 6:21pm
The Cincinnati Bengals got a modicum of good news Monday.
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis told reporters that quarterback Andy Dalton won't need surgery on his fractured right thumb. Dalton will not play in Week 15 against the San Francisco 49ers, per Lewis, and the team will take it week by week to determine his availability.
There is hope Dalton can return for the playoffs, per NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport, but will depend on how quickly he heals.
Dalton was knocked out in the first quarter of Sunday's 33-20 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers after suffering the injury attempting to make a tackle.
With Dalton's timetable up in the air, second-year pro AJ McCarron will make his first career start. The 25-year-old fifth-round draft pick put up 280 yards with two touchdowns and two costly picks in relief of Dalton on Sunday. Dalton is hopeful to return Week 17, the story said, but even that isn't set in stone. Owners should make plans to be without Dalton for at least Week 15, but probably longer.
And suddenly, the Bengals’ best season in the 16-game era went from a coronation to a wake in a matter of seconds Sunday with quarterback Andy Dalton maybe out for the rest of the year pending Monday’s examination by a hand specialist.
At this point there's nothing solid until Dalton meets with the doctor.
“I’ll know more [Monday],” said Dalton, who broke his throwing thumb making the tackle on defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt at the Steelers 7 after he intercepted Dalton’s shovel pass on the Bengals’ first drive with five minutes left in the first quarter.
“When I got to the sidelines, I tried to grip the ball. I felt like it was a little bruise that I could try and get through. Then I went and got the X-Ray,” said Dalton, who has never missed a start in his career. “Mentally I’m fine. It’s unfortunate it happened at this point in the season. But I’ll do everything I can to get back as quickly as I can to help the team. I’m doing all right. There are people way worse off than I am.”
Head coach Marvin Lewis ruled him out for next Sunday’s game in San Francisco. But with Dalton confirming a fractured throwing thumb it looks like a daunting timetable that may be in the four-to-six-week range and could spell the end of the best season of his career. AJ McCarron would finish out the season but figure on a downgrade for the Bengal WRs. TE Tyler Eifert was concussed and would also be a huge loss if he misses time. The Bengal attack may very well shift to the running game.
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said Dalton will miss next week's game against San Francisco but acknowledged he did not know whether the quarterback will miss any additional time.
"I hurt my thumb," Dalton said. "They told me there is a fracture in there."
Dalton, who will see a specialist Monday, left the game in the first quarter and did not return. After initially being declared questionable to return, Dalton was downgraded moments later and returned to the sideline with a black cast around his right hand. AJ McCarron took over and seems on pace for a start in Week 15. It's a downgrade for the Bengal WRs, even though McCarron did connect with AJ Green on a long TD. TE Tyler Eifert was forced to leave the game with a concussion, so the Bengals could lean on the run game a bit more until they can get healthy.
Friday, December 11, 2015, 6:22pm
Bengals TE Tyler Eifert (neck, probable) took full practice reps again Friday and is probable for Week 14. He’s the #2 TE in the league in PPG, so he’s pretty much a must-start if he’s healthy. His return is a downgrade for A.J. Green and Marvin Jones, but Andy Dalton gets a small bump given Eifert’s effectiveness in the red zone.
Thursday, December 10, 2015, 6:31pm
Bengals TE Tyler Eifert (neck) took full practice reps Thursday after being limited Wednesday. Eifert says he is “on track to play Sunday” and was a “full go” on Thursday. He’s the #2 TE in the league in PPG, so he’s pretty much a must-start if he’s healthy. His return is a downgrade for A.J. Green and Marvin Jones, but Andy Dalton gets a small bump given Eifert’s effectiveness in the red zone.
Wednesday, December 9, 2015, 6:33pm
Bengals TE Tyler Eifert (neck) took limited practice reps Wednesday. Eifert says he is “on track to play Sunday.” He’s the #2 TE in the league in PPG, so he’s pretty much a must-start if he’s healthy. His return is a downgrade for A.J. Green and Marvin Jones, but Andy Dalton gets a small bump given Eifert’s effectiveness in the red zone.
Friday, November 27, 2015, 6:20pm
Wednesday, November 25, 2015, 6:15pm
Friday, November 20, 2015, 6:29pm
Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (left thumb, probable) took full practice reps again Friday and is probable for Week 11. Fitzpatrick will start in Week 11. On paper, it’s a solid matchup against the Texans, though Houston has limited Andy Dalton and Zach Mettenberger to 368 combined passing yards and two interceptions in the last two games. Back in Week 7, they yielded 282 yards and four touchdowns to Ryan Tannehill.
Thursday, November 19, 2015, 5:53pm
Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (left thumb) returned to full practice reps Thursday after missing Wednesday. Fitzpatrick is expected to start in Week 11. On paper, it’s a solid matchup against the Texans, though Houston has limited Andy Dalton and Zach Mettenberger to 368 combined passing yards and two interceptions in the last two games. Back in Week 7, they yielded 282 yards and four touchdowns to Ryan Tannehill.
Wednesday, November 18, 2015, 6:07pm
Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (left thumb) did not practice Wednesday. Fitzpatrick is expected to start in Week 11. On paper, it’s a solid matchup against the Texans, though Houston has limited Andy Dalton and Zach Mettenberger to 368 combined passing yards and two interceptions in the last two games. Back in Week 7, they yielded 282 yards and four touchdowns to Ryan Tannehill.
Re-introduce yourself to the Bengals’ latest X-Factor because they’ve got a lot of them on offense.
Since 2013, here are Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton’s numbers when wide receiver Marvin Jones is paired opposite Pro Bowler A.J Green:
A 62.6 completion percentage at 7.6 yards per attempts for 41 TDs and 21 picks and a passer rating of 93.2. That’s compared to career numbers of 61.8 percent, 7.1 yards per attempts and an 86.7 rating.
And in games they combine for a TD since 2013, like they did in Sunday’s 28-24 victory in Baltimore, the Bengals are 8-1.
Jones is fast, tough, has great hands and defenses have to treat him almost as delicately as Green. On Sunday’s first drive he made a nice leaping catch on third-and-six when Dalton let him come back for it on the left sideline for a 32-yard play. And his one-handed catch on the last drive down the right sideline when he fried cornerback Kyle Arrington for 31 yards is now a part of Bengals lore.
Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson confirmed that Monday when he indicated Hill's benching in favor of Giovani Bernard in the third quarter of the 24-19 victory was only temporary.
"Yeah, I'll put him back in. It's a new game," Jackson said. "That one's over and done with. We're 2-0, so we're moving on. We're moving on to the next game."
"Jeremy will be fine," head coach Marvin Lewis said. "He will get back at it and earn our trust as it goes. But we can't have the ball on the ground."
Twice in last weekend's game, Hill lost his grip on the football during two separate drives. The first time, about halfway through the first quarter, Hill had the football ripped from him as he was being tackled after crossing midfield. With his leg being twisted by the pile that had formed around him, Hill was going down at an awkward angle when linebacker Donald Butler yanked the ball out of his hands. This is at least good news for owners of Hill. It may be worth it to swing a deal for Bernard if at all possible as he proved to be a capable handcuff should Hill's fumbling problems continue, or he gets hurt.
After the third, a quarterback sneak, Dalton left the game with what the team called a neck injury. He was examined on the sideline by trainers and then remained on the sideline but didn’t return to the game. At halftime, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said Dalton is fine and taking him out of the game was a precautionary measure.
This is probably nothing to worry about, but it's something to monitor over the next week. Dalton may be poised for a bounceback season now that all of his major weapons are healthy.