The Bengals are elevating veteran quarterback A.J. McCarron from the practice squad for Sunday’s game against the Steelers, and he will backup Jake Browning.
McCarron played in 17 games with the Bengals, Oakland Raiders and Houston Texans from 2015-20, but hasn’t been in the NFL since 2021. He played with the St. Louis BattleHawks of the XFL this spring.
Cincinnati also said signed a new quarterback before their game with the Steelers. They signed Drew Plitt to their practice squad after Joe Burrow’s injury. Still, since they only had two quarterbacks around on the active before Burrow’s injury, Plitt will have a chance to be the backup.
An undrafted free agent in 2022, Plitt came onto the scene out of Ball State, where he played for five years. While there, Plitt’s best season came in 2019, where he racked up 2918 passing yards and 24 touchdowns to just seven interceptions. He finished his career with three straight seasons of over 2000 passing yards or more while throwing 59 touchdowns and just 19 interceptions from 2019 to 2021 with Ball State.
The reason that Plitt is the player they signed before they faced the Steelers? His experience within the system is valuable. While Plitt has played in the XFL and even won a championship there, he has two separate stints with Cincinnati in his rookie season and then this year during training camp, so he knows the offense.
Burrow’s was placed on injured reserve and was deemed out for the season. Cincinnati’s first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft out of LSU, Burrow won NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 2021 and was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2022. Burrow had completed 244 of 365 passes for 2,309 yards, 15 touchdowns, six interceptions and a 91.0 passer rating before the injury this season. He dealt with a calf injury from training camp that limited him in the early going of 2023. Burrow had a 100.8 passer rating in 2022 and a 108.3 rating in 2021, as the Bengals made it all the way to the Super Bowl.
Meanwhile, the Bengals will turn to Browning as the starter against the Steelers, with McCarron as the backup, the only other veteran quarterback on their active roster. The 27-year-old has been in the NFL since 2019 but appeared in his second game and completed his first career pass in relief of Burrow on Thursday.
Browning finished by completing 8 of 14 for 68 yards and a garbage-time touchdown pass to Jamar Chase. He was sacked three times and ran four times for 40 yards.