Cincinnati Bengals: A.J. Green has ‘a little ways to go’ in return from injury

A.J. Green says he hasn’t suffered any setbacks, but the Cincinnati Bengals star receiver might not be progressing either.

Green practiced in full pads for individual drills last week for the first time in his recovery from an ankle injury suffered the opening day of training camp, and the hope then was that he could ramp it up even more this week and possibly play Sunday against the Jaguars (2-4).

On Thursday, Green said he’s just taking his time and it was the plan all along to take this week off.

“If I can go, I can go,” Green said. “If I can’t, I can’t. It’s no big thing. Like I said from Day 1, if I’m healthy enough to play then I’m going to play. Right now, I still have a little ways to go.”

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Head coach Zac Taylor seemed to think Green would be practicing this week, though, when he was asked Wednesday in his press conference about whether the 2011 first-round draft pick would do more than last week.

That was before Green sat out of practice Wednesday and then again Thursday.

“It’ll be a progression,” Taylor said Wednesday before practice. “Again, let’s just take it today and see where he’s at today, and then we’ll address it tonight and figure out what we want to do tomorrow. Truthfully, that’s where we’re at. We’re just going to take it day by day and see what tomorrow brings once we finish up this practice.”

Green was expecting to run some routes before the game at Baltimore this past Sunday but those plans were scrapped. He has been with the team on the sidelines for every game this season despite not being active.

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“We just didn’t run routes — nothing happened,” Green said. “Like I said, we’re just gonna take our time with it. There’s no need to rush this thing. Like I said from Day 1, I’m gonna have to feel good to get back out there to where I can play at a high level to where I know I can. Just don’t want to rush it back like I did with my toe (last year).”

The seven-time Pro Bowl receiver injured his toe in Week 8 of the 2018 season and came back four games later only to get shut down again when he re-aggravated it running a route in a 24-10 loss to Denver. Green said he wasn’t 100 percent when he came back then but knew he was going to need surgery on the toe anyway, so he figured he might as well play through it as long as he could.

Coming back from the toe surgery, Green was limited throughout the offseason and he was just nearing the completion of his first full practice under Taylor when he and cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick got tangled up going for an underthrown pass from Andy Dalton late in the opening session of training camp at Dayton’s Welcome Stadium. Green underwent minor surgery to repair torn ligaments.

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“I wasn’t 100 percent (with the toe), but I wanted to play, … so I came back, but this time with the ankle, it’s a little different,” Green said. “I didn’t need any real serious surgery, so for me it’s just resting and getting the muscles around it strong enough to where I can actually go out there and not overcompensate for something else and get hurt again. That’s my biggest thing, is not getting hurt again.”

When asked specifically if his ankle didn’t react the way he expected following last week’s limited practices, Green said, “No, it had nothing to do with that. Like I said, they just gave me the week off. Nothing more, nothing less than that.”

With the Bengals off to an 0-6 start and unlikely to make the playoffs, there doesn’t seem to be a need for any specific timetable anyway, but Green said a better record wouldn’t change anything.

There is some speculation the Bengals could be just waiting out the trade window, though Taylor insisted last week the team is not looking to move him. The trade deadline is 4 p.m. Oct. 29.

“I don’t think about none of that stuff,” Green said. “That’s the media finding something to talk about. That’s the big topic right: Who could be traded? With the season we’ve had, everybody thinks I’m going to be traded. I’m trying to get healthy. I don’t think about getting traded or anything like that. I’m not a guy who waits to get traded or not to get traded. We’ll see what happens.”

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If the Bengals and Green aren’t in a rush, it might make sense to wait until after the bye, which is coming up after next weekend’s game in London against the Los Angeles Rams. However, neither Green nor Taylor indicated that is the plan.

“The good news is we don’t have to make a roster move to get him (onto the active roster),” Taylor said Wednesday. “He’s up. The important thing is that we want him for more of our games than not. ‘Careful’ is not the right word, but we just want to make sure he’s fully ready. We’ll make the decision that’s in the best interest of keeping him healthy and getting him to play a lot of snaps for us this year. If it’s this weekend, great. If it’s next weekend, great. If it’s after the bye week, great. Truthfully, we just need to see him in practice to know where he’s at.”


Jaguars at Bengals, 1 p.m., WHIO-TV Ch. 7, Ch. 12; 700, 1530, 102.7, 104.7

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