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Battlehawks Playoff Hopes Riding on Return of AJ McCarron

AJ McCarron
© Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

During the battle between the United Football League’s best, the St. Louis Battlehawks and the Birmingham Stallions, Battlehawks quarterback AJ McCarron injured his ankle in the fourth quarter of Week 7, sidelining him for the next two games. Since then, the Battlehawks have not been the same. A team that was considered a title contender and favorite out of the XFL Conference prior to their loss to the Stallions has struggled since the 30-26 defeat.

Without their leader and former Alabama star QB at the helm, the Battlehawks (6-3) look like a shell of the team that had such high hopes.

The Battlehawks' Missing Piece

After narrowly beating the mediocre D.C. Defenders by a margin of five points and losing to the now 2-7 Arlington Renegades, it is evident that backup QB Manny Wilkins cannot keep the Battlehawks afloat ahead of the playoffs. This raises the question: how badly do the Battlehawks need McCarron back?

In the aftermath of his injury and the hard-fought battle with the No. 1 team in the league, the Battlehawks have dropped to fourth in the UFL’s power rankings. The offensive performance without McCarron has been poor, and it is clear that if this team wants to win it all, they need him to be healthy.

McCarron is still fourth in the league in passing yards with 1,446 despite missing two games. He is also tied for second for most touchdowns, throwing 14 on the season with a single rushing touchdown. That kind of production is hard to replace during the most important part of the season, and if McCarron can return soon, the Battlehawks could be back in business. After their unconvincing win against the Defenders, St. Louis has clinched a playoff spot, but the possibility of going into the postseason without their star quarterback is daunting.

When Could AJ McCarron Return?

Not all hope is lost for the Battlehawks. In their unfortunate loss to the Renegades last week, McCarron was on the sideline and listed as the backup for Wilkins. With the Battlehawks gearing up to play the San Antonio Brahmas (7-2) on June 1, McCarron’s status is still unclear. However, his being a backup last week suggests the possibility of a potential return this week.

No matter the result of the game this week, the Battlehawks will play the Brahmas again on June 9 for the XFL Conference Championship. Winning this game would be a tie-breaker for the No. 1 seed, but McCarron's health and the Battlehawk's long-term goals may trump that fact.

Therefore, there is a scenario where St. Louis rests McCarron for the final game of the season, keeping him fresh for the playoffs. Regardless, having their star QB is crucial if the Battlehawks want to have a shot at winning the XFL title, let alone the UFL Championship.


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