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Bengals' Andy Dalton has cast on hand removed

Progress for Andy Dalton.

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday that Dalton is out of his hand cast. This is a big step in the right direction, Rapoport added, though Dalton still has to work on getting the strength back in his hand.

ESPN first reported the news.

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said on Tuesday that the Bengals are preparing to start AJ McCarron on Saturday against Pittsburgh.

"It's not going to change later in the week," Lewis said on preparing to start AJ McCarron. "We're preparing (McCarron) to be the starting quarterback. Whether Andy (Dalton) is a backup or where Andy is, we'll know down the line. "He'll be ready when he's ready and he's been doing well."

Dalton had been in the cast since suffering a broken thumb on his throwing hand in a Week 14 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. McCarron has won two of three starts in Dalton's place, and remains the most likely candidate to start Saturday night's Wild Card playoff rematch against the Steelers.

The Bengals are keeping their options open, but consider it a huge upset if Dalton sees the field this weekend.

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