Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis told reporters Monday after practice that A.J. Green does not need surgery on his injured toe.
Green reportedly went to Green Bay on Monday to see a foot specialist, but Lewis said he was never really expecting bad news.
The seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver thought he had just jammed his toe when he hurt it on his final catch against Tampa Bay in Week 8, but as the team broke for its bye last week, Green wound up in a boot with swelling.
“He’ll be fine this year,” Lewis said. “… We pretty much kind of knew that, but we just wanted to touch all bases.”
Lewis did not say whether Green would be able to play this week as Cincinnati (5-3) hosts the New Orleans Saints (7-1), but reports Sunday indicated he could miss some games, which could be a huge blow to an offense that heavily relies on Green.
The Bengals on Monday signed rookie seventh-round draft pick Auden Tate from the practice squad after placing defensive end Carl Lawson on injured/reserve, a move that points to Green potentially missing substantial time.
“If that comes to the realization it’s serious, then it’s ‘next man up’ and someone like Auden Tate is going to have to step up for us and make plays, and we’re expecting him to,” tight end C.J. Uzomah said. “Obviously, it puts a lot of pressure on us as individuals because we know what he brings to the table, and he’s A.J. Green — A.J. Dream is what we call him because it’s a dream to have him on the team. We can’t let that halt our offense.”
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While the Bengals were awaiting word on the seriousness of Green’s injury before practice Monday, Lawson was in surprisingly good spirits about his own season-ending ACL tear.
The second-year player suffered the injury in the first quarter against Tampa Bay.
“You can be upset but you can’t be devastated,” Lawson said. “If I went out and got hurt and wasn’t doing everything I was supposed to be doing, then I would have regrets but I don’t, so now I just go back to the drawing board and get back to work.”
“It is what it is,” he added. “I’m at peace that I can only control what I can control.”
It’s not the first time Lawson has gone through an injury like this. He tore the ACL in his left knee as a freshman at Auburn, and Dr. James Andrews’ team of orthopedic surgeons repaired that one well enough he is confident the group will do another fine job.
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Lawson expects to undergo surgery in about a week or whenever the swelling goes down enough to allow it.
“It’s 100 percent easier (the second time),” said Lawson, who noted he will focus on upper body and core strengthening while recovering from surgery. “Now I get to work on not just my knee but any deficiencies I have with my body, and I will just come back stronger.”
Already one of the hardest working players on the Bengals’ roster, there is no doubt Lawson will be back, and he expects to be ready by Week 1. His recovery in college took less than eight months, he recalled.
Lawson believes his commitment to the weight room in the offseason and maintaining through the season puts him at an advantage, too, because his leg muscles surrounding his knee are so strong.
“It definitely helps you with your recovery,” Lawson said. “The stronger the leg is, the faster you are able to come back. I went through it my freshman year of college — same process.”
It was important for Lawson that he at least got to play some of his second season in the NFL. Although the 2017 fourth-round draft pick wasn’t as productive on the stat sheet, he felt he was having a better season than his rookie campaign when he had 8.5 sacks. In seven games this season, he had just six tackles and one sack, but led the team in quarterback pressures, according to ProFootballFocus.com.
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“I’m so glad it happened now (rather than earlier) because I didn’t lose my second year in the league,” Lawson said. “Now I have so much film I can go back to and so much stuff, I was still getting better as the year was going on, so now I can take that into next season, knowing what I know now and it will be so much easier.”
Lawson is the second player on Cincinnati’s defense to tear an ACL this season, joining Ryan Glasgow on injured/reserve.
Saints at Bengals, 1 p.m., Fox, 700, 1530, 102.7, 104.7