Ex-Falcons backup QB cleared to return from knee injury

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Former Falcons backup quarterback AJ McCarron is ready to play football again after missing the entire 2021 season with a knee injury.

“I feel great,” McCarron said during an appearance on NFL Network via AL. “I was blessed to have a great team around me with Dr. (Lyle) Cane, our doctor at Alabama, and Kevin Wilk, who I did a bunch of my rehab with. I got cleared at four-and-a-half months out from surgery, so I’ve just been working on the strength and getting everything back normal, and I really feel great right now. …

“You never know what your future holds, what it is in this game, so I’m just ready, waiting for a call. But right now, I’m enjoying my time off and being able to be a dad and being around my three boys for the first time in a while.”

McCarron’s season ended a year ago in August against the Dolphins in a preseason game. The former Alabama All-American was brought in to be a reserve signal caller behind Matt Ryan. For what it’s worth, Arthur Smith and the coaching staff had nothing but praise for McCarron before he tore his ACL scrambling for a first down.

After being selected in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL draft, McCarron spent four seasons backing up Andy Dalton with the Bengals. The most action McCarron saw was in 2015 when he started the final three games of the regular season and a playoff game against the Steelers, which Cinncinati would lose 18-16 after leading for much of the game.

McCarron then joined the Bills as a free agent in 2018 but was subsequently traded to the Raiders for a fifth-round pick. He served as Derek Carr‘s backup during the 2018 season, and it’s been more of the same since then. He spent the next two years as a reserve player in Houston before he signed with Atlanta. He’s been arguably the most sought-after backup quarterback since he entered the league, and he knows his role.

“I think I can always play,” McCarron said. “I’ve never questioned that. But I think if you ask anybody that’s been in the QB room with me, I’ve also been a fantastic teammate. Listen, whether it’s teaching a young guy or being there for an older guy, I love being a part of the room. I feel like I’m a good personality, great teammate and good energy to have around.

Over the course of his career, McCarron has completed 109/174 passes for 1,173 yards with six touchdowns and three interceptions in 17 regular-season games, with four starts. I’d be shocked if Atlanta went back out and signed him, but the former Alabama star will surely find himself on a roster before the Summer is over.

Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire
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