Cincinnati head coach Marvin Lewis got straight to the point Monday about quarterback Andy Dalton's broken thumb suffered in Sunday's home loss to Pittsburgh.
"We will continue as is. He will be in a cast, and basically we will go week-to-week," Lewis said after he learned that Dalton will not need surgery. "I think that is about as good an outcome as we can expect. He won’t play this week. As we move forward, we’ll see how he is each and every week, and it will be up to Andy and the doctors.”
The coach said, without surgery, it all comes down to how fast Dalton heals.
“It’s a healing situation. This is obviously a starting quarterback in the NFL, a young guy, and has a lot of future ahead of him," Lewis said. "This is a healing situation, no doubt.”
When asked if it was a best-case scenario, the coach said, “I would say so, from what my limited medical knowledge is.”
When questioned about the possibility of the team bringing in another veteran, Lewis said, “We’ll see.”
Practice squad member Keith Wenning, who's yet to take an NFL snap, is the only other quarterback on the roster other than A.J. McCarron, who flashed after taking over for Dalton. Queried if it's better to have someone at starting quarterback who’s more familiar with the system as opposed to bringing someone in from the outside, Lewis said, “Well, we have to do the best thing for the football team.”
Asked to assess McCarron's play Sunday, Lewis said, “Unfortunately, we had the turnovers (McCarron threw a pair of interceptions including a pick-six). We can’t have turnovers. Other than that, it was a pretty positive day for him. I feel good about that. Our football team has a lot of confidence in McCarron. His confidence, the way he carries himself. It’s the way he’s been since the day he has walked in here."
Lewis said the stage isn't too large for McCarron, who won a national championship at Alabama.
"It’s not going to be too big for him. He’s demonstrated that. He’s had those kind of moments in practice, where you sit there and say, ‘Who threw that’. I was pleased with that," Lewis said. "I stood back with him every day last year. Went through things with him, so I know his intellect and how he’s into it. He’s going to lead us into this football game.”
The Bengals visit the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.
"It seemed like when he came into the huddle (against Pittsburgh), the team really responded to him," Lewis said. "That’s a tough situation when you lose your starting quarterback, but they responded pretty well. He did a pretty good job, and he’s got to keep getting better, and he will with all the reps and time. It won’t just be four or five plays that we carve out for him in the week now. He’ll be better for it.”
Lewis said the offensive game plan will change. It's his philosophy to take what's given, and suit the plan to fit the strengths and limitations of the quarterback.
"It’ll be his plan, it won’t be Andy’s plan, it will be AJ’s plan,” said the coach. "...The game plan is always based around the quarterback, the offense and the defense. We’re not paring anything. We’re preparing a game plan for our quarterback this weekend, and the rest of our football team. We’ll be fine; we have to go execute.”