CINCINNATI -- The Bengals cleared rookie quarterback A.J. McCarron to return to practice on Tuesday, something the former Alabama signal caller hasn't done since the spring.
McCarron was officially placed on the Reserve/Non-Football Injury list Aug. 30 but he hasn't practiced with the Bengals since shortly after they selected him in the fifth round of this year's draft because of a shoulder injury. The Bengals now have 21 days to evaluate McCarron in practice without him counting against the 53-man roster. They may activate him at any time within the 21-day window.
They could eventually decide to place McCarron on season-ending injured reserve or place him on the practice squad. In order for him to be signed to the practice squad he would first have to clear waivers. That's not likely to be a gamble the Bengals want to take. McCarron helped Alabama win two national titles in college and the Bengals like him as a long-term player, whether he remains a backup to starter Andy Dalton or should one day get an opportunity to become the starter.
Dalton and Jason Campbell are the only two quarterbacks on the Bengals roster.
The Bengals did make one practice squad change on Tuesday. They signed second-year linebacker Terrell Manning and released rookie linebacker Justin Jackson, who had been signed to the practice squad on Nov. 3. Manning (6-2, 237) was a fifth-round pick of Green Bay in 2012 and has nine games of experience between stints with the Packers, San Diego, the New York Giants, Miami and Chicago organizations.