Green said if the Bengals were in playoff contention it would have been a more difficult decision, but at this point, he has to think more about his health and he doesn’t feel he has anything to prove personally.
Cincinnati selected him fourth overall in 2011 and he’s played in 111 regular-season games during his nine-year career, missing seven games last year because of a toe injury, six games in 2016 because of a hamstring tear, three games in 2014 because of turf toe and one game in 2011 because of a knee injury. He was limited throughout the offseason and was finally participating in a full practice for the first time under Zac Taylor the first day of training camp when he went down with about 10 minutes left in the session.
»RELATED: Bengals closing in on top draft pick
“Everybody knows what I can do when I’m on the field,” Green said. “These last two years have been bad breaks; that’s one thing I can’t control. All I can control is how I prepare and how I am on and off the field, the work I put in on and off the field. For me, a lot of people think it’s a lot of mental in this thing, I’m sad. I don’t get too high on myself, I never get too low on myself, I stay the course. You play the game long enough, stuff like this is going to happen.”
The Bengals were hoping he could play at some point in the first half of the season, so they chose not to put him on injured/reserve, and although the timeline was extended, it appeared he was nearing a return after the Week 9 bye. However, swelling occurred as he ramped up his workouts, and Green was shut down the following week.
Green hasn’t participated in a full practice since then.
“It’s something we fought through all year,” Taylor said. “I certainly know that A.J.’s intention was trying to get healthy, trying to play. He just went up to check it. It wasn’t like there was any setback or anything. He just wanted to make sure everything was good. He will be good in the offseason. … It’s unfortunate it was a very difficult injury, that’s hard to come back from. At the end of the day, your wishful thinking was that it wasn’t going to be so long-term but there was no way of knowing that. It was a really tough injury for him, kept him out the whole season and we’ve all seen him try to fight to get back out there and it just hasn’t worked that way.”
Green said he still prefers to stay in Cincinnati because he still has the goal of breaking records and finishing where he started. Because of his current health situation, he would understand if the organization put a franchise tag on him; however, if that is the case, he does not plan to participate in offseason workouts and possibly even in training camp. He would not sit out the season.
“The tag is $18 million so I’m not running away from that, but that also shows that they’re not committed and in that circumstance I have to protect myself,” Green said.
The seven-time Pro Bowler said he still brings value to the team, and if he had played this season, the Bengals wouldn’t have just one win.
“I understand my value for the team and I think everybody else understands how valuable I am to this team, but there’s a midpoint where we had to meet at,” Green said. “I don’t know where that midpoint is and like I said, we’ll go from there.”
Taylor just wants to see Green in his offense and doesn’t question his commitment.
“I know what he’s about,” Taylor said. “He’s a genuine person. I’ve enjoyed being around him. It’s obviously unfortunate what happened this year, but certainly those are conversations to have in the offseason with him and our staff, but I really like the thought of A.J. catching balls for us. That’s something that gets me really excited.”
Bengals at Dolphins, 1 p.m., WHIO-TV Ch. 7, Ch. 12; 700, 1530, 102.7, 104.7