Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green is finally seeing enough progress in his recovery from ankle surgery to talk about it.
Addressing the media Wednesday for the first time since injuring his ankle on the opening day of training camp, Green said he did some running Tuesday and felt good enough the next day to take his protective boot off for good.
Green doesn’t know when he will return to practice, but said he is taking it day-by-day. Coach Zac Taylor previously indicated the goal is to have him back within the first half of the season and noted Wednesday that he is happy with Green’s progress. It was a good sign in itself that Green was willing to talk to the media about it.
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“Everything is going in a great direction,” Green said. “I am here every day, seven days a week, seven hours doing treatment nonstop, mending it, so I’m doing great. It feels great.”
He added, “I’m way ahead of schedule to where a normal person would be. I’m only six weeks out and I’m already walking. You never know what the next two weeks or three weeks are going to bring to where I can start back putting on shoes and actually running and doing some on the field stuff. You never know.”
For now, he expects the Bengals to be cautious with him to avoid reinjury, but when he’s 100 percent and feeling healthy enough to play at his usual level, he hopes to jump right in. On Tuesday, he did some interval running to simulate a play drive for about 10 minutes. Now he’s just working to get back his range of motion and get back into football shape.
Although it felt good to do something, he said he’s tired of sitting out while the team practices and competes.
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“I’m very sick of it,” Green said. “I’m sick of being hurt. Just hard to deal with these last two years. But like I said, just go with the punches, take the bad with the bad and take the good with the good and just go with it.
At the time of his injury, Green was nearing the end of his first full practice with the team since undergoing toe surgery in December. He injured the toe in a Week 8 loss to Tampa Bay and re-aggravated it in his return five weeks later.
Throughout the offseason workout program, Green was limited to some side drills and route running. He was looking forward to finally digging into Taylor’s new offense during training camp, but toward the end of the first practice, which was held at the University of Dayton’s Welcome Stadium, he rolled his ankle going back on an underthrown ball contested by Dre Kirkpatrick.
“(It) just sucked,” Green said. “I was feeling so good. My body felt amazing, my toe felt back to normal. And then I came down and just frickin’ rolled my ankle. I never rolled my ankle before or had an ankle sprain so I was like what the heck happened? I knew something was serious because it just swelled up on me real quick. It was just an unfortunate accident.”
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A couple players the next day criticized the field at Dayton, saying the Bengals never should have been practicing there because it wasn’t up to their normal standards. Green said he has played on worse fields than that, so he wasn’t worried about practicing there.
Green didn’t place blame on those fields in particular but indicated it could have been avoided on grass. The Bengals usually practice on grass across from Paul Brown Stadium but the field inside the stadium is a synthetic turf, like about 13 other NFL fields.
“It’s turf,” Green said of Welcome Stadium. “I hate turf. I feel like turf has always hurt me. I hurt my toe on turf and I hurt my ankle. I never got hurt on grass. So I’m going to stick by that. … I hate turf. It’s the turf’s fault. Everybody needs grass fields.”
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Green said his wife and two young kids have helped him get through an otherwise frustrating process. He also is excited to see Taylor’s new offense take shape and imagine what he can contribute to it when he gets back on the field.
The seven-time Pro Bowl receiver traveled with the team to Seattle and watched from the sidelines as Andy Dalton threw for a career-high 418 yards and two touchdowns without his best weapon. Fans will get their first live look (though still without Green) Sunday as the Bengals play their home opener against San Francisco.
“He’ll be coming back eventually and we’ll accept him with open arms,” Dalton said. “I think it shows that we’ve got depth on this team, we’ve got guys who have filled in. I mean, those are big shoes to fill but we have eight different guys who caught passes last week. This is the way we play this game, we play offensive football. A lot of guys are going to be involved. So if we can add him to the mix, it’s going to be even more productive.”
The Bengals lost 21-20 to the Seahawks, but Green said with the way Taylor mixes things up on offense, he "could probably play another eight years" if he stays with Cincinnati. Green is in the final year of his contract and indicated he would be willing to talk about a deal this season if the Bengals are interested.
He’s not worried about his injuries impacting contract decisions.
“Stuff is happening,” Green said. “We’re trying to get healthy and make sure I’m fine to where I can go out there and play. But like I said, I really don’t get into it. I let my agent handle all of that other stuff. Everybody knows when they give me 16 games, what you’re going to get. I’m not worried about the contract situation because it’s going to work itself out no matter where I’m at.”
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