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AJ McCarron: Who Is the Bengals Backup QB?

( [email protected] ) Dec 16, 2015 01:38 PM EST
After Andy Dalton's thumb injury Sunday against Pittsburgh, Cincinnati Bengals backup quarterback A.J. McCarron took over for the AFC North leader. Who is AJ McCarron and does he have what it takes to lead the Bengals, if necessary, into the playoffs?
A.J.McCarron by Executive Office of the President

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback has not even started a game in the NFL and already the second year pro out of Alabama is making headlines. McCarron was called on to take over under center Sunday, December 13 in a losing effort to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 33-20. The general consensus is McCarron's NFL coming of age performance was fairly solid, despite a couple of interceptions in the loss. McCarron threw for 280 yards and completed a pair of touchdowns off the bench, but it was after the game in the press conference where McCarron turned heads.

McCarron famously compared himself to Tom Brady who, in 2001, was a little-heard-of backup quarterback to Drew Bledsoe when he was called upon to finish the season after Bledsoe was injured in week two of the season. All Brady did was, of course, win the Super Bowl and jump-start his career as one of the most successful quarterbacks in NFL history. Comparing oneself to a player of Brady's caliber is bound to get one noticed. For the record, here are McCaron's comments to the following question: "Is it a tough scenario knowing if you win your first game, you're going to the playoffs?" 

"You have to embrace it. I love it. You have to love pressured moments. That's where the great ones really shine. I guess Tom Brady was in the same situation when he had the opportunity," said McCarron. "I've got to make the most of it and do my job each week. I know we have an unbelievable defense and if we don't turn the ball over we have a great chance. Like I said, I promise to God I will work my tail off and be ready to go."

Since Sunday, McCarron has offered some clarification regarding his comments, responding to reactions in the media that claimed McCarron was a little too sure of himself and overconfident to the point of cocky. "I wasn't comparing myself to one of the greats of all-time. Whoever took that out is ridiculous," McCarron said, via the Bengals' website. "What I'm saying is Tom Brady was in the same team situation when Bledsoe went out. We have a great team, he had a great team. That's what I put forth on that talking about what he made of his opportunity. But I feel like the big games I've played in, I played in a lot in college. It's a different game at this level but still big pressure moments and I feel like I've had a lot of those." 

McCarron will be called on to lead the Bengals (10-3) through the last few games of the season and into the playoffs. Does he have the leadership and other characteristics to be successful? An examination of his personal life may reveal some answers.  

McCarron, a native of Mobile, Alabama, was the starting quarterback for the University of Alabama from 2011-2013, winning back-to-back BCS National Championships for the 2011 and 2012 seasons. 

He finished second in Heisman Trophy voting in 2013

AJ McCarron is Alabama's all-time leading quarterback in career passing yards (9,019), passing touchdowns (77), and completions (686)

Should the Bengals defeat the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, December 20, McCarron will be the first Alabama quarterback to win a game in the NFL since the New York Giants' Jeff Rutledge in 1987. 

McCarron is a devout Catholic and has a tattoo of Jesus and a cross on his chest. 

He married girlfriend Katherine Webb on July 12, 2014. On December 8, 2015, the couple announced they are expecting their first child in 2016. 

Tags : AJ McCarron, Cincinnati Bengals, NFL, Christian NFL Star