Dalton in coat, stands around during practice - a step back

CINCINNATI (AP) Andy Dalton walked around the field glumly in a stocking cap, coat and gloves on Wednesday, a step back from a day earlier when he did conditioning drills and threw a pass left-handed.

The Bengals quarterback had hoped that his broken right thumb would be well enough to let him be at least a backup for Cincinnati's home playoff game on Saturday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

He'd been doing conditioning drills for the past week and got his cast off on Monday.

On Tuesday, he wore a sweatshirt and sweatpants to practice, took a couple of snaps and made his left-handed lob, having a bit of fun with the media. Then he resumed his conditioning work on the sideline as if getting ready to play.

There was none of that Wednesday, when he stood around and watched rather than preparing to play. After practice, he used his fingers on the right hand, but not the thumb to grab and move things in his locker.

The Bengals will start AJ McCarron in the opening-round game on Saturday, trying to break the Bengals' 25-year streak of playoff futility. He took over when Dalton broke his thumb during a 33-20 loss to the Steelers at Paul Brown Stadium on Dec. 13. The Bengals went 2-1 in his three starts.

No quarterback with so few NFL starts has led his team to a playoff win since the 1979 season, when Gifford Nielsen led the Houston Oilers to a 17-14 win over the Chargers. San Diego's Dan Fouts threw five interceptions in that game; he'll be part of the national radio broadcast on Saturday.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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