CINCINNATI — Let the quarterback consternation begin for Bengals fans.
Two banners — one anti-Andy Dalton and the other pro-A.J. Carron — were hung up on an overpass that runs adjacent to the Bengals practice fields at Paul Brown Stadium during the first day of the team’s training camp workouts on Thursday.
One banner read: "Don’t sign Dalton. He sucks." The second banner read: "A.J. to A.J. The future is now."
The banners were removed by team employees after about 10-15 minutes but they flapped in the breezes long enough to draw some attention.
Dalton is going into his fourth season as the starting quarterback, having led the Bengals to 30 wins and three straight playoff appearances, including winning the AFC North championship last season. The Bengals are 0-3 in those three playoff games. Dalton and the team are in the midst of contract negotiations, a topic that has been at the forefront of the team’s plans for the future.
Both sides have said they want to get a deal done but that it’s just a matter of finding a compromise.
The Bengals selected McCarron in the fifth round of this year’s draft. He led Alabama to two BCS national titles in his three seasons with the Crimson Tide. He is the Bengals third-string quarterback behind Dalton and veteran Jason Campbell.
"It’s not a distraction," said Dalton about his contract status Thursday before practice. "It’s not something that I am worried about. When the time is right it’s going to happen. Until then there is nothing new. When the contract gets done we can talk more."
Dalton did say on Thursday he was appreciative of the public words of support he’s gotten from head coach Marvin Lewis and owner Mike Brown this week.
"That’s exactly what you want to hear from the owner," said Dalton. "It shows what this organization thinks of me and it’s great for him to come out and say that. I think it really meant a lot. To know i have the support from the top down that is exactly what you want. I was very thankful for that. This is a great place, I love being here. Hopefully I am here for a long time."
Dalton took the majority of snaps during Thursday’s afternoon practice. McCarron is currently on the Active/Non-Football Injury list with a shoulder injury.
PUP MOVEMENT: Left tackle Andrew Whitworth was added to the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list with a calf injury sustained during Wednesday’s conditioning tests. He still counts against the roster limit of 90 and can return to practice as soon as he is medically cleared.
Six players who had been on the PUP list prior to Wednesday were medically cleared and practiced. Cornerback Leon Hall was joined by punter Kevin Huber, wide receiver Colin Lockett, cornerback Onterio McCalebb, defensive tackle Christo Bilukidi and left guard Clint Boling.
Boling suffered a torn ACL last December 1 at San Diego. His being able to practice on the first day of training camp was a bit of a surprise but it was a goal he was pushing for since the injury occurred.
"I had a general idea based on how my knee was feeling and the plan with the doctors was that today was the day," said Boling. "There is going to continue to be a lot of tests. Today was the first day of practices. There’s going to be a first day with pads, the first scrimmage, the first preseason game, the first real game. There’s a lot of different steps that we’ll have to cross. This was the first one. When we put pads on I’ll take it when we get there."
Several other players remain on the sideline as they continue to rehab their way back from various injuries. Still on the PUP are: defensive tackle Geno Atkins (knee), wide receiver Ryan Whalen (hamstring), tight end Jermaine Gresham (back), defensive tackle Devon Still (back), defensive tackle Zach Minter (back), offensive lineman Mike Pollak (knee) and rookie linebacker Marquis Flowers (hamstring)
Besides McCarron, wide receiver Marvin Jones (ankle) is also the NFI list.
COMINGS AND GOINGS: The Bengals waived punter T.J. Conley after practice and added a pair of wide receivers in Jeremy Johnson and Conner Vernon. Johnson, a rookie from Southern Methodist, was briefly with New England but released on July 17. Vernon is a first-year player from Duke who was with Oakland during the preseason last year and had been signed by Cleveland to its practice squad late last season. The Browns waived Vernon on Wednesday.
Both players had success in college playing against the University of Cincinnati. Vernon caught 10 passes for 119 yards and a touchdown for Duke in the 2012 Belk Bowl, although it wasn’t enough as the Bearcats won that game 48-34. Johnson had 11 catches for 102 yards for SMU last season in UC’s 28-25 win at Nippert Stadium.