Bengals QB Dalton on IR with thumb injury

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton was placed on injured reserve Monday with a right thumb injury suffered in Sunday’s 35-20 loss to Cleveland.

Jeff Driskel will make his first NFL start against Denver this week in Dalton’s place, and the team has claimed quarterback Tom Savage off waivers from the San Francisco 49ers to back up Driskel.

“The medical staff feels Andy will make a full recovery for the start of the 2019 offseason,” coach Marvin Lewis said in a statement. “Our team now will move forward led by Jeff Driskel. Jeff has prepared each week as though he were the starting QB and demonstrated he has a great command of the offensive system.”

Dalton was injured on the fourth play of the third quarter after a snap by center Billy Price sailed over his head. Dalton ran back to recover the ball and attempted to pick it up, but the Browns recovered it. Dalton immediately went to the sideline and into the locker room with athletic trainers and did not return.

Lewis had said Sunday night that the initial scans did not show anything serious enough for Dalton to miss the rest of the season. On Monday, however, Dalton’s season was over.

Dalton has not missed a game since the 2015 season, when he attempted to make a tackle after throwing an interception against the Steelers and broke his right thumb. Although Dalton avoided surgery, he did not return that season, missing the final three regular-season games and the AFC wild-card game. AJ McCarron, who is now with the Raiders, replaced him.

Driskel completed 17-of-29 passes for 155 yards and a touchdown in one half of football after replacing Dalton. The Bengals have kept Driskel around since they claimed him off waivers from the Niners in 2016. He was the third quarterback that season and spent the 2017 season on IR.

“I’ve always known that I could play at this level,” Driskel said. “I wouldn’t be here if I couldn’t. But the more you get out there and the more that you play well, the more confidence you’re going to have in yourself and the people around are going to have in you. Just got to keep doing what I’m doing and continue to play well and give the team a chance to win.”

The Bengals’ roster has been decimated by injuries this season. Not only did tight end Tyler Eifert, linebacker Preston Brown, defensive tackle Ryan Glasgow and defensive end Carl Lawson end up on IR, but linebacker Nick Vigil and receiver A.J. Green have both missed extended time. Left tackle Cordy Glenn and cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick are currently injured and not able to play.

The Bengals started 4-1 and had a 73 percent chance of making the playoffs after Week 5, per FPI. Since then, they are 1-5 and have seen their FPI playoff chances dip to 4 percent.

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