At least back at the Bengals‘ facility, anyway, as the Cincinnati quarterback spoke to the media on Friday following surgery on Tuesday to repair a torn ligament in the thumb on his throwing hand which he sustained in a Week 12 defeat to the Browns going for a fumble.
Done for the season, the veteran quarterback is one of 14 Bengals to head to injured reserve this season, as Cincy takes its 5-6 record into a Week 13 matchup in which it hosts the Denver Broncos (5-6) in a showdown of teams clinging ever so slightly to playoff hopes.
“I feel like I keep saying it, but injuries unfortunately are part of the game and it’s going to happen and you have to say ‘next man up.’ All that kind of stuff,” Dalton said per the team’s official website. “There is some reality to it. Nobody wants to make excuses. Nobody wants to come out there and say the injuries are the reason that we are where we are, but I think the team looked a little different when we were 4-1. Different guys took different time of missing games. It can be tough when you don’t have the same group out there. When you look at the best teams, the teams that make a run at it, they’re the healthiest teams. Unfortunately this year we weren’t that.”
With two years left on his contract, Dalton’s days in Cincinnati might be done at the conclusion of this season, but he received somewhat of a vote of confidence on Friday from coach Marvin Lewis. However, there is much speculation Lewis will be removed, also.
“A lot of franchises would love to have Andy. If you talk with any GM or head coach, they’re all trying to find Andy Dalton,” Lewis said Friday. “Each and every one of them. You find out right away when you don’t have a guy that’s competent, that can deliver accurate throws and can handle the offense and handle the planning that goes into week to week to week.”
The eight-year veteran feels the support one would expect for a franchise quarterback.
“Everybody here’s been behind me,” he said. “I’ve never doubted that at all. I think from the top down, the support that I’ve received is what you want. … I never had a doubt. Everybody here’s been behind me,” he said. “I’ve never doubted that at all. I think from the top down, the support that I’ve received is what you want. … I never had a doubt.”
For now, Dalton, who is expected to be ready when offseason workouts begin in the spring, will be replaced in the interim by reserve signal-caller Jeff Driskel.
“It sucks I’m not playing, but I’m happy for him,” Dalton said. “He works hard and puts in the time.”
Dalton’s abbreviated 11-game 2018 season saw him complete 226 of 365 passes (61.9 percent) for 2,566 yards and 21 touchdowns to 11 interceptions. It’s the sixth of eight seasons in which Dalton has thrown for 20 or more touchdowns and the first season he hasn’t eclipsed 3,200 yards passing.
Whether the red-headed Bengals mainstay continues his career in the Queen City with a mended thumb will have to wait until the offseason, which Dalton has unfortunately already begun.