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Battlehawks QB A.J. McCarron and Defenders WR Chris Blair: XFL Stars Rise to NFL Rosters

Key Points:

  • A.J. McCarron, the former St. Louis Battlehawks quarterback, has joined the Cincinnati Bengals’ 53-man roster.
  • Chris Blair, previously with the D.C. Defenders, has been promoted to the Atlanta Falcons’ 53-man roster.
  • Both players showcased outstanding performances in the XFL, leading to their rise in the NFL.

With the season ending injury to Bengals Star QB Joe Burrow, former St. Louis Battlehawks quarterback A.J. McCarron has secured a position on the Cincinnati Bengals’ 53-man roster. This transition follows his tenure on the Bengals practice squad since September. McCarron’s time with the Battlehawks was marked by stellar performances, including leading the XFL with 24 passing touchdowns and an overall count of 26 touchdowns. His remarkable 68.8% completion rate topped the league’s charts, and he ranked second with 203 completions and 2,150 passing yards. Despite moving to the NFL, the Battlehawks retain McCarron’s rights, indicating a potential return to the XFL in the future.

McCarron will be the backup to starting QB Jake Browning. Browning was 19-26 for 227 yards 1 TD, 1 INT in their loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers 10 – 16 Sunday.

Similarly, former D.C. Defenders wide receiver Chris Blair has made his way to the NFL, being promoted to the Atlanta Falcons’ 53-man roster. Blair’s promotion comes after a stint on the Falcons practice squad, beginning on September 27. The roster move came after the Falcons’ recent 24-15 victory over the New Orleans Saints.

During the 2023 XFL season, Blair was a key player for the Defenders, leading the team in receiving yards (594) and yards per catch (22.9), along with securing 26 receptions and three touchdowns. Alongside punter Daniel Whelan, who is now with the Green Bay Packers, Blair is one of two former Defenders to join an active NFL roster. Former XFL 2020 LA Wildcat OL Storm Norton is also on the roster.

These moves highlight the XFL’s role as a breeding ground for NFL talent, demonstrating that the league is more than capable of nurturing players who can excel at the highest levels of football. This is welcomed news as fans of the XFL and USFL await news on the pending merger.

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Mark Perry, a devoted sports journalist and founder of XFL News Hub, has been a key figure in XFL coverage since its 2018 revival. Launching XFL News Hub soon after the league's return announcement, Mark has established the platform as a primary source for comprehensive XFL updates. Renowned for his in-depth knowledge and commitment to sports journalism, Mark actively engages the XFL community, welcoming interactions at

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