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CINCINNATI — Bengals backup quarterback AJ McCarron passionately defended Andy Dalton on Monday, imploring fans to show the starter their support despite Cincinnati’s 0-2 start and struggles on offense.

Dalton and the team were booed often during the first two games, and one fan threw something at the QB at the end of the Bengals’ Week 1 loss to the Ravens.
“I wish people in this city would back him and go with it,” McCarron said. “Listen, I think I’m a great quarterback, and I think he’s an unbelievable quarterback. I love him to death. But he’s our quarterback. Stop making it into something else. It’s not into something else. Ride with him. Trust the team. Trust the process. And trust what we are trying to do. And be a fan of who is playing.

“We are all part of a team. It’s not we are divided, it’s not that way. It’s tough for me, it really is. I love him. I love our relationship. Been with him for a long time now. It sucks for me to see. … I trust him every time he steps out there, and I think we are going to win every time he is under center. It’s part of football, though, you win some, lose some. That’s the way it goes.”

Through two games, Dalton has completed 50 percent of his passes for 394 yards, no touchdowns and a 47.2 quarterback rating that ranks 37 out of 41 quarterbacks. That has prompted some pundits to suggest a switch to McCarron, who filled in for an injured Dalton during the 2015 season, starting three regular-season games and the Bengals’ loss to the Steelers in the AFC wild-card round of the playoffs.

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said last week that Dalton’s job is safe.

“Andy knows our relationship. I don’t think Andy has to ever worry,” McCarron said. “We don’t let those things get between me and him. It’s part of sports in general. It makes sports such a popular event. There is always somebody wanting this guy to play. He’s our quarterback. I wish people would — it sucks to see for me personally with my relationship with him, people booing him. It’s like, do you think he wants to have tipped balls that turn into interceptions? Has he worked his whole life for that? His whole week for that? No. He’s a normal human.”

Dalton said he hasn’t read any stories or reports about his play.

“There’s no reason to read anything because it doesn’t mean anything,” Dalton said. “People can come up with a headline all they want, but all that matters is what’s being said in this organization, on this team, and what happens in this locker room.”

A.J. Green (hamstring) set to return to Bengals practice

A.J. Green will take a step towards returning to game action.

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said Monday he expects the Pro Bowl receiver to practice on Wednesday. Lewis called Green’s outlook “partly sunny,” per the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Green has missed the past three games after suffering a hamstring injury early in a Week 11 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Getting back on the practice field is the first step for Green’s potential return for the 5-7-1 Bengals, currently third in the AFC North.

Green is 36 receiving yards shy of his sixth straight 1,000-yard season. He could join Randy Moss as the only players in NFL history with 1,000-plus receiving yards in each of his first six seasons.

Andy Dalton has played well the past two weeks without Green. The Bengals’ quarterback has completed more than 72 percent of his passes with four touchdowns to zero interceptions in wins over the Eagles and Browns.

Cincinnati hosts Pittsburgh on Sunday, travels to Houston on Christmas Eve and faces the Ravens at home to close out the season.