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Bengals shouldn’t start AJ McCarron to avoid risk of injury

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MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 17: AJ McCarron #5 of the Cincinnati Bengals looks to pass the ball in the fourth quarter of the game against the Minnesota Vikings on December 17, 2017 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 17: AJ McCarron #5 of the Cincinnati Bengals looks to pass the ball in the fourth quarter of the game against the Minnesota Vikings on December 17, 2017 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /
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With just two games remaining in the 2017 regular season, the Cincinnati Bengals should use AJ McCarron wisely. Starting him isn’t the answer.

Tis the season to be jolly and happy. In the case of the AJ McCarron and the Bengals, it’s time to be smart and aware. Fans may be anxious to get another taste of what McCarron can do under center. But, is it really worth the risk? With the Bengals being home for the New Year and watching the playoffs on the big screen, there’s no reason to toss AJ to the Lions…literally.

Sure, it would be great to see McCarron do some damage in the final two games of the regular season. Yet, there’s cause to be smart regarding his usage. The Bengals and McCarron are currently going through the process of handling his case as a restricted or unrestricted free agent. The grievance isn’t anything new. But, it does shed some light on whether the Bengals should toss him into the fire or roll with an alternate plan.

Simply put, McCarron could walk away and find employment with the highest bidder if he’s awarded the UFA tag. But, the Bengals would have quite a bit of compensation due, if he’s considered a restricted free agent. Additionally, with Mike Brown being the shrewd businessman that he is, he’ll want to protect his bargaining piece from any type of harm.

Behind the eight ball 

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With the Bengals’ O-line looking like Swiss cheese, the idea of putting any QB in the war zone is scary. Recently, Cedric Ogbuehi has been considered for season-ending injured reserve, per The Cincinnati Enquirer. A shoulder injury will keep Ogbuehi from the lineup and his spot will be filed by tackle Kent Perkins. Perkins has been a mainstay of the Bengals’ practice squad all season.

Then there’s the issue of Andre Smith being MIA. His injury came against the Vikings and he won’t be there to lend his skills to the banged-up offensive line. Additionally, the line is just…woefully horrendous.

Need more reason to keep McCarron on the sideline? The Bengals are playing the role of spoiler for the final two games of the season. Both the Lions and the Ravens are playing for the postseason lives. There will be no letdown in the energy from either team. With the Bengals offensive line featuring rookies and players out of their normal positions, the defenses are going to have a field day. Look for Dean Pees (Baltimore) and Teryl Austin (Detroit) to bring the heat with tons of blitzes.

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It may be a cool idea, in theory, to see McCarron on the field getting some action. But, that should have been the plan when the Bengals were still in the thick of the AFC playoff hunt. Now that the door is closed and McCarron could possibly be Brown’s blue-chip trade resource, it would be wise to let the idea of extended playing time die.

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