AJ McCarron can be starting-quality QB for Bengals

When Wallace Gilberry raved earlier this month that Bengals second-year quarterback AJ McCarron was "doing awesome" with a revamped throwing motion, the veteran defensive end wasn't telling tales out of school.

Now that the offseason has come to a close, Cincinnati's coaching staff believes McCarron is "fully capable of becoming a starting-quality player," according to NFL Media's Albert Breer.

In addition to confirming multiple reports that McCarron is throwing the ball better than he ever has, Breer notes that the former Alabama star is also showcasing "top-notch pocket presence."

Although McCarron is no threat to Andy Dalton's QB1 job this summer, his development could lead to a shorter leash should the starter continue to struggle in primetime and playoff games.

Dalton's six-year, $96 million contract is essentially a year-to-year proposal. The organization can realistically opt out of that deal as soon as the end of this season.

Buoyed by the Bengals' best surrounding talent since the 1988 Super Bowl squad, Dalton is being set up for success entering his fifth NFL campaign. If he fails to take advantage of that prime opportunity, though, don't be surprised to see McCarron under center in 2015.

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