A.J. McCarron is looking at another rookie season with a tweaked throwing motion.
Bengals rookie quarterback A.J. McCarron, pleased with what amounts to a new throwing motion, finished a week-long stint with quarterback guru Dr. Tom House and his staff Friday and plans to return two more times before training camp.
"It's somewhat brand new. They've helped me tremendously," McCarron said Friday from the University of Southern California. "There had been some stuff I'd already been working on and they've changed some little things in my mechanics."
McCarron, hounded by shoulder problems since the Bengals took him in last year's fifth round, believes the changes are going to make things easier on that throwing shoulder. After telling the Bengals his shoulder felt the best it has in years during his brief stretch on the field last season, he has been throwing in the offseason with quarterback coach David Morris back home in Mobile, Ala., at the University of South Alabama.
Once strapped to House's high-speed cameras and computers that record speed and motion at USC, the tweaks have morphed into some pretty significant changes.
His offhand isn't as close to his body, his motion is shorter, and his shoulder and hips are rotating more. The idea is that McCarron's shoulder won't take as much strain because his legs are now absorbing more of the torque, which he says is now much greater.
"With my old throwing motion, my hips and shoulder were moving at the same time," McCarron said. "Now my hips go first and my shoulder reacts after that. I'm keeping my shoulder in longer. That creates a lot more torque…All these mechanics, by changing them and putting them in sync more, that will definitely let me play the game a lot longer.
"I'm able to get my hips out before my shoulders. When I turn my hips, my shoulder isn't back behind my hips. It feels effortless."
McCarron didn't begin practicing regularly with the Bengals until late November. Plagued by tendinitis during most of spring ball, McCarron went on the physically unable to perform list (PUP) when training camp started and built the shoulder back up with rest and a rehab program.
He decided to attend the highly intensive camp after an endorsement from Bengals starting quarterback Andy Dalton. Dalton, who credited House last year for helping him get more out of his throws by using his feet and lower body after he worked there back in March, is expected to attend again in two weeks. McCarron says he's heading back out for a week in March and a week in July.
House, a former Major League pitcher, has worked with several NFL quarterbacks, among them Drew Brees and Tom Brady. His teachings are based on rotational timing for hips, shoulders, and arms, and are supplemented by cameras and computers. Players also undergo a nutrition tutorial.
Also working with McCarron are former NFL quarterback John Beck and former USC pitcher Adam Dedeaux. The trio also worked on getting McCarron to keep his non-throwing hand farther away from his body, one of the conventional tenants they've tweaked.
"You're not supposed to pull the off hand down," McCarron said. "It's out in front of me. You're supposed to let your body go to your off hand. Your body should be going forward toward the target at your off hand…your body just ends up going to it."
Since he's basically a rookie again, the Bengals still see McCarron as a No. 3 quarterback and are looking to either re-sign backup Jason Campbell or find another veteran to be the No. 2 while he develops. McCarron starts his second rookie year with not only a new motion, but more confidence in his arm.
"I'm excited,' McCarron said. "I can feel (the difference) already."