A.J. Green watched patiently through much of the Cincinnati Bengals offseason workout program as he awaited clearance for full participation.
On Friday, he reported to Paul Brown Stadium anxious to finally jump into the new offense head coach Zac Taylor brought from his time with the Los Angeles Rams.
Green said he is 100 percent healthy from the toe injury that ended his 2018 campaign early, and he expects to be a full participant as training camp begins Saturday at the University of Dayton’s Welcome Stadium.
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“I’m very excited,” Green said. “I’m just happy to be back. I’m grateful to be back on the field. What happened last year was tough. I’m just happy to be with the guys again.”
“These last eight years we’ve been in the same offense,” he added. “I really didn’t have to study that much. But this is a lot, it’s complex. I got a lot of studying to do, a lot of catching up to do. I didn’t do OTAs. I did a lot of walk throughs. But being live, it’s going to be different.”
Less than a week from his 31st birthday, Green has something to prove in his ninth year while coming back from injury, but he says he isn’t slowing down any time soon. He is just 1,093 yards from 10,000 for his career and said he would be there already if it weren’t for a couple unfortunate injuries.
The 16 games he has missed over eight years likely would have meant an additional 1,300 yards, he said.
“Before I got hurt my play has never dipped any,” Green said. “I just happened to have some freak injuries. I always believe in my ability. I know I’m not slowing down soon. When I’m on the field, you can see if you watch the game on Sundays.”
That’s why he isn’t worrying about a contract as his sets to expire after this season. Tyler Boyd got a four-year extension earlier this week, and the attention now has turned to whether Green is next in line.
Green said he is happy for Boyd and had spoken to him through the contract negotiations, just reminding him to be patient. He’s putting his own words into practice now.
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“It doesn’t affect me,” Green said. “I just come here to play football. I’m grateful to be mentioned for an extension going into my third deal. It’s a blessing for me. A lot of people can’t say that they’ve got three contracts in this league. I just take it one day at a time. I put in the work and the results will come.”
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones has gained a lot of attention this summer, as the Falcons are expected to sign him to a new deal. They restructured his contract last July, and he’s signed through 2020, but his salary still only ranks 12th highest at his position.
A new contract is expected to make Jones the top-paid receiver in the league, and many think Green should be treated similarly.
“I don’t watch that,” Green said. “I’ll let my agent and them work the situation out. I love being here. But you never know. I feel like everything will work itself out.”
Green said he doesn’t feel a need to prove his place in the league with other receivers getting a lot of attention. His goal this season is simple as far as stats he wants to achieve.
“Just play all 16 games and my numbers will come,” Green said. “My number will be high if I play all 16 games. I know that for a fact.”
Boyd said Tuesday that he and Green should be the best wide receiver tandem in the league this year. When asked if he agrees, Green said, “of course.”
“You saw the year that we were having when we both were healthy,” Green said. “The way he can create mismatches at any position on the field, it’s great to have him on the other side doing his thing. That opens up a lot for me and Joe (Mixon). The sky is the limit for this team. But definitely, we can be the best duo. If I just say healthy and we keep doing what we are doing picking it up from last year.”
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