Cincinnati Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron (5) throws in the first half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2015, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
Gary Landers
December 16, 2015

CINCINNATI (AP) The Bengals have decided to promote Keith Wenning off their practice squad as the backup quarterback rather than sign a veteran free agent.

They're without starter Andy Dalton for an indefinite time with a broken right thumb. AJ McCarron will make his first NFL start on Sunday in San Francisco.

The Bengals (10-3) considered signing a veteran as McCarron's backup but instead went with Wenning, a first-year player who got into three preseason games. Coach Marvin Lewis says that Wenning knows the offense already, and any free agent would have needed to get practice time to learn it.

Instead, McCarron will get all of the plays with the starting offense in practice to get ready. Cincinnati can clinch a playoff spot with a win.

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