Ron Chenoy/USA Today

Bengals Are Moving On From Overtime Woes In Denver And Focusing Forward

The recent past is ancient history for Cincinnati as the Bengals hone in on what's in front of them -- more opportunity

Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron expects to play Sunday in the regular season finale at home game against Baltimore after straining his left wrist in Monday night's loss at Denver.

The first-year quarterback, who is on schedule for his third NFL start Sunday after Andy Dalton suffered a broken thunb, said he's following orders and hoping for the best. He wants to play.

"I’m really just doing what the training staff is telling me," McCarron said at the team's weekly quarterback news conference. "Taking it day by day, and I’ll be ready to go. ... I’m practicing and just did the walk through (Wednesday). I don’t have any concerns. Just ready to get back and playing. Ready to go.”

McCarron practiced in full Thursday, along with tight end Tyler Eifert, who's missed most of the past four games with injuries, the latest a concussion. McCarron said afterward that it's the first time he's had to deal with a hand injury. A shoulder injury from college delayed the start of his NFL career. He did not play a down until this season.

"I don’t think I’ve ever had a hand injury, other than throwing and hitting your hand on the lineman’s helmet," he said. "Other than that, I think I’ve been pretty fortunate.”

He was asked how long it took to forget about the last two minutes of Monday when the Bengals lost possession of the football, the game and important playoff opportunities in a matter of moments.

“I mean, it’s part of this league," McCarron said. "You watch the film, evaluate, and you have to move on. Can’t hang on to the good and can’t hang on to the bad. Like I said, you have to find a happy medium. There is going to be good and bad. You have to have a level plane, and roll with it."

McCarron admitted that the outcome was unfortunate after the game's final snap went past him only to be recovered by Denver, ending the contest.

"It happens. My eyes got caught up. I was trying to read the defense, and thought we we’re going to have a big play, and it happens," said McCarron. "It’s football. Like I said, it sucks to happen in that moment, rather than play 20 of the game. It’s just one of those things, but we still fought really hard. I thought we played a very good game against the number one overall ranked defense, and very good team. Tough place to play, and I was proud of the guys.”

He said he's previously experienced the good and bad in one game, with a tale of two halves, so to speak.

“Yeah, I’ve had a couple of those games in college where you feel like you have all the momentum, one little thing happens, and then it swings and it goes back and forth," McCarron said of some of his Alabama days. "Late in the game, it might go all the way to them, and then you’re trying to fight and get it back. I’ve definitely been in those games. We had a chance to win. We knew at some point their defense was going to step up and play better. We knew we had to match that, but when it came down to it, they made more plays than us. A lot of that is my fault when it comes to the snap.”

McCarron, a hopeful sort who's endeared himself to teammates with his positive attitude, kept flying the flag of optimism.

"...There is still a chance to get a (playoff) bye. All we can do is control what we can. Go out, win the game, and whatever happens in the rest of the games, happens," he said. "We’re not doubting anything, or worried about anything. We’re going to go out this Sunday and play football like we always do, and try to get a win.

"We’re going to treat it like every Sunday. I don’t think it’s anything different. We’re still going to have to prepare the same way. We’re going to have a big game plan like we always do, and go out and win the game. Like I said, whatever happens in the other games happens. We can’t worry about that. We have to take care of our business, and control what we can control, and go from there.”

McCarron was asked again about his left wrist injury on his non-throwing hand, and said: "I'm just taking it day by day, doing what the trainers tell me to do, and hopefully be ready to go Sunday.”

Any mental adjustment with the injury? “I don't know," he said. "Got to wait. ... I feel I'm a pretty mentally tough guy. I've had to play through a lot of injuries, so I think I'll be fine.”

If not, former practice squad quarterback Keith Wenning is the next man on the depth chart, with no NFL snaps to his credit. He's the only other quarterback on the 53-man roster. The Bengals signed free-agent QB Mike Kafka, formerly of Northwestern, to the practice squad earlier in the week. The former Philadelphia fourth-round draft pick hasn’t thrown a regular-season pass in the league since 2011.


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