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AJ McCarron signs contract with Cincinnati Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals have Andy Dalton's understudy under contract.

The team on Thursday announced the signing of rookie AJ McCarron, the former Alabama quarterback selected in the fifth round of this month's draft.

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Currently nestled behind Jason Campbell on the depth chart, McCarron doesn't figure to see snaps as a rookie. If the Bengals can't agree to a long-term extension with Dalton, though, the rookie looms as a future option under center on a talent-laden roster coming off three straight trips to the postseason.

Clocking in at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, McCarron lacks the big, vertical arm you'd like at the game's highest level, but his experience playing in a pro-style offense under Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban is a plus.

"He has the athleticism to move in the pocket and buy himself more time to make a throw," NFL Media draft analyst Mike Mayock said. "I get frustrated with his mechanics; sometimes he gets sloppy."

Stung by pre-draft reports that questioned his character and ability to thrive in the NFL, McCarron -- who thought he could go as high as 16th overall -- hits Cincy with a major-league chip on his shoulder. Considering Dalton's uncertain future, the rookie's chance for redemption might arrive sooner than some expect.

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