Bengals eager to give Greg McElroy chance

Four days ago, Greg McElroy was biding his time, trying to avoid getting in the middle of the circus that was once the New York Jets' quarterback controversy. Now he finds himself in Cincinnati, where there is anything but drama behind center.

As they added to their practice squad Wednesday, the Bengals signed McElroy to bolster their depth at quarterback. He won't be part of the official 53-man roster, but will be another body to work out at the position. Andy Dalton and Josh Johnson are the only signal-callers Cincinnati is officially taking into the regular season. The Bengals are one of 13 teams to employ the two-quarterback model.

Still, coach Marvin Lewis is optimistic that if needed, McElroy can contribute.

"The thing that I see is a guy that played with a great pocket presence," Lewis said. "As advertised, he moved out of the pocket and ran when he needed to. He was smart enough to get down when he needed to get down. Probably a couple of good traits for a quarterback."

The Jets announced earlier Wednesday that they were going with Geno Smith at quarterback over the injured Mark Sanchez.

A seventh-round selection in the 2011 draft, McElroy spent the last two seasons as a reserve for the Jets. This preseason, he was 11-for-19 passing for 145 yards and a touchdown. He didn't throw an interception.

In two regular-season games last year, McElroy went 19-of-31 passing for 231 yards and a touchdown, with one interception. The former Alabama standout's worst game of the two came two days before Christmas, when he and the Jets lost 27-17 to the Chargers in his only career start. That day, he completed 58.3 percent of his 24 passes and had a 65.5 quarterback rating.

"Other than the roof kind of caving in on him when they played the Chargers up there, he played pretty well," Lewis said.

Lewis believes McElroy, the quarterback who led Alabama to its 2009 national championship, will take advantage of this chance.

"He has an opportunity now to learn our offensive system here, and some way, one way or the other, he’s got the skills to play in the NFL," Lewis said. "That’s what we’re looking for is some guy that could come on that way."