A.J. Green

AFC Notes: Jaguars, Patriots, Randall

The Jaguars will be without several players on Sunday against the Texans, Michael DiRocco of ESPN recaps on Twitter. S Ronnie Harrison is listed as questionable with an ankle injury. CB A.J. Bouye, WR Marqise Lee, DE Yannick Ngakoue and LT Cam Robinson have all already been ruled out of the contest.

Last week, Jacksonville lost starting QB Nick Foles, who suffered a broken left clavicle in Week 1 and has been placed on injured reserve. The franchise’s collective health has put a damper on what should have been a bounceback year for the Jags. As the team carries on in Houston, let’s take a look around the AFC:

  • The Patriots worked out several players ahead of their game against the Dolphins, a source tells Nick Underhill of The Athletic (Twitter link). OT Caleb Benenoch, NT Carl Davis, DT Willie Henry, DB Josh Jones and DB Adarius Pickett worked out for New England.
  • Browns S Damarious Randall has been ruled out of Monday’s game, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Randall showed up to Cleveland’s facility with a concussion and was placed in the concussion protocol.
  • A.J. Green, who injured his ankle during the Bengals‘ training camp, is out of his walking boot and feels like is he ahead of schedule in his recovery, as Tyler Dragon of the Cincinnati Enquirer relays. “I’m only six weeks out and I’m already walking,” Green said. “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.”

A.J. Green Not Going On Injured Reserve

Some moderately good news for Bengals fans. Star receiver A.J. Green will not start the season on injured reserve, per Geoff Hobson of the team’s official site (Twitter link).

New Cincinnati head coach Zac Taylor apparently said he “feels like he’ll be back before eight weeks.” While it’s good to know Green isn’t going on IR, that doesn’t exactly sound like a ringing endorsement of his health. Last we heard a month ago, the feeling was that he would miss a few regular season games with his ankle injury. If he had started the year on injured reserve, he would’ve had to have missed at least the first eight.

Green is important enough to the Bengals’ offense that it’s obviously worth it to save his roster spot for a few weeks rather than making him miss two months. Green is still one of the league’s better receivers when healthy, but he’s 31 now and dealing with a significant injury for the second straight season. In 2018, foot issues limited the Georgia product to just nine games. The Bengals will be leaning heavily on Tyler Boyd, who they extended this offseason, in his absence.

Bengals Notes: Price, Green, Dennard, QBs

After losing starters Clint Boling and Jonah Williams this offseason, the Bengals will have another new first-stringer up front. They are set to bench center Billy Price, a 2018 first-round pick, for veteran Trey Hopkins, Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic tweets. This marks a setback in Price’s development. The Ohio State alum struggled as a rookie, playing in only 10 games and grading as Pro Football Focus’ fourth-worst full-time center. A sixth-year UDFA who has made 21 Bengals starts over the past two seasons, Hopkins fared better in 589 snaps in 2018. He graded as PFF’s No. 21 snapper and will parlay that into a Week 1 job.

Additionally, Price’s former Ohio State teammate, fourth-round rookie guard Michael Jordan, will be Cincinnati’s left guard starter. Should an injury befall Hopkins, Jordan or starting left guard John Miller, Dehner adds (via Twitter) Price will return to center.

Here is the latest out of southwest Ohio:

  • Darqueze Dennard is expected to begin the season on the Bengals’ reserve/PUP list, according to Geoff Hobson of the team’s website. The recently re-signed cornerback underwent knee surgery before re-upping with the Bengals. While the team knew Dennard would need surgery after re-signing him, it is certainly a bad sign when a player on a one-year deal will be out at least six regular-season games. Dennard signed for $4.5MM in March.
  • A.J. Green will join Dennard in being out for the start of the season, and it’s uncertain when the perennial Pro Bowl wideout will return. But Hobson adds the Bengals will still attempt to extend Green, who is entering his age-31 season. The Bengals already extended Tyler Boyd. Earlier this offseason, Green expressed a desire to stay in Cincinnati after his 2019 contract year. But that was before he suffered an ankle injury that is expected to keep him out of multiple September games.
  • While Green recovers, a rookie UDFA will take his place. Damion Willis will start alongside Boyd, Zac Taylor said (via Dehner, on Twitter). Willis was part of Cincinnati’s initial post-draft free agent class, signing with the team out of Troy. He has certainly enjoyed a standout preseason.
  • Ryan Finley has commandeered the Bengals’ backup job, and the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Tyler Dragon expects this to push Jeff Driskel off the roster. Driskel has run into hamstring trouble and was making an attempt to show versatility by lining up at wide receiver recently. The former sixth-round pick started five games last season.

A.J. Green Now Expected To Miss Games?

Hours after a report indicated an A.J. Green Week 1 return was realistic, the timetable for the Bengals’ top player looks bleaker. Green is now expected to miss regular-season time, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter).

The cleanup on Green’s injured ankle revealed more damage, with Rapoport noting this discovery looks set to cost the ninth-year wide receiver a few games. Green has missed regular-season games in two of the past three years, including a career-most seven in 2018. Zac Taylor acknowledged (via The Athletic’s Paul Dehner Jr., on Twitter) “a couple games” might be the best-case scenario.

There’s a good chance he’s going to miss a couple games,” Taylor said. “We’re hopeful he’s back at the beginning of the season. A little more extensive than we initially thought. … Hopefully he’ll be ready to go at the beginning half of the season.”

The only wide receiver in NFL history to begin his career with seven straight Pro Bowls, Green missed 13 games since the 2016 season. He tore ligaments in his ankle to start his ninth NFL camp. This comes in a contract year for the 31-year-old wideout. The Bengals have taken care of their No. 2 receiver, Tyler Boyd, via four-year extension.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Bengals’ A.J. Green

Bengals star A.J. Green underwent a minor ankle procedure on Tuesday morning to clean it out after his injury, sources tell Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Here’s the good news – his timeline should remain the same as before, so Week 1 is still possible for the wide receiver. 

[RELATED: A.J. Green Expected Out 6-8 Weeks]

Initially ruled a standard sprain, Green’s injury may cost him regular season time. However, it’s not as scary as it first appeared. Green was carted off of the practice field late last week, creating a scary scene in Cincinnati.

The timing is less than ideal for a number of reasons. Personally, for Green, it comes in the midst of contract negotiations that were on course to put him near the top of the wide receivers list for average yearly compensation. Of course, an injury as minor as this shouldn’t completely derail talks, but it might be a bit of a barrier.

One of the Bengals’ all-time greats, Green ranks second in team annals in catches, receiving yards and touchdowns to Chad Johnson. Among the most productive wideouts since entering the league in 2011, Green earned Pro Bowl honors in each of his first seven seasons and has topped 1,000 yards six times.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

A.J. Green Expected Out 6-8 Weeks

An MRI revealed Bengals star receiver A.J. Green tore ligaments in his ankle on Saturday and is now expected to miss the next six to eight weeks, ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweets

What was originally expected to be just a sprain now is expected to keep the pass-catcher out through the first week of the season. Green injured the ankle at the University of Dayton’s Welcome Stadium and the field conditions were considered to be subpar, according to Shefter [Twitter link].

This is, of course, a bad way to start camp for the Bengals and Green, who missed seven games a year ago and produced career lows in catches and receptions. At the age of 31, Green has been looking to ink a new deal with Cincinnati, but considering he’s missed 13 games in the last three years, the Bengals might not be in any hurry to get something done. Green is signed through 2019 but will become a free agent in 2020.

One of the Bengals all-time greats, Green ranks second in team annals in catches, receiving yards and touchdowns to Chad Johnson. Among the most productive wideouts since entering the league in 2011, Green earned Pro Bowl honors in each of his first seven seasons and has topped 1,000 yards six times.

Cincinnati will now focus its attention on the recently re-signed Tyler Boyd, who posted 76 grabs for 1,028 yards and seven touchdowns in 2018, which led to him signing a four-year deal earlier this week.

AFC Notes: Caserio, Patriots, Green, Bengals, Griffin, Ravens

Patriots exec Nick Caserio addressed the media today for the first time since the Texans’ ill-fated attempt to make him their general manager. Caserio dodged most of the questions, but while he outwardly expressed commitment to the Patriots, the press “session did nothing to kill the belief that Caserio isn’t happy with the way things played out,” writes Tom Curran of NBC Sports. “I love being here, and right now we’re focused on trying to get the team ready for this season. I’m happy to be here and I love what I do on a day-to-day basis,” Caserio said when asked if he was disappointed with the way things played out.

If he really is unhappy, fortunately he won’t have to wait too long. Caserio’s contract with the Patriots expires after the 2020 draft, and the Texans are widely expected to make another run at him then. Asked whether he wants to run a team some day, he did his best Bill Belichick impression. “I’m not really focused on the hypotheticals. I’m focused on today. Honestly, I’m focused on trying to be the best version of myself each and every day,” he said. It sounds like the Caserio/Patriots partnership is just waiting to end.

Here’s more from around the AFC on a busy Saturday:

  • There was a lot of panic earlier today when A.J. Green went down with a lower leg injury and had to be carted off at Bengals practice. Fortunately, it doesn’t appear it’s as bad as it could’ve been. The injury is believed to be an ankle sprain, sources told Albert Breer of SI.com, “but Green will have an MRI to make sure it isn’t something more serious.” The Bengals have already had bad injury luck this offseason, with projected starting left tackle Jonah Williams getting knocked out for the year, and this the last thing they needed. Green was hampered by injuries last year, and limited to nine games due to recurrent toe problems. If the Bengals are going to have any success under first-year coach Zac Taylor, they need Green at 100 percent.
  • Green wasn’t the only notable AFC North player to go down on Saturday. Ravens backup quarterback Robert Griffin III “has a small fracture in his thumb,” sources told Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic (Twitter link). He’ll be sidelined for a while, but the team is “still optimistic he’ll be ready for Week One.” Griffin injured his thumb when it banged against a defender’s helmet toward the end of Baltimore’s practice, Zrebiec explained in a separate tweet. Starter Lamar Jackson and rookie Trace McSorley are now the only two healthy quarterbacks on the roster, so the Ravens will likely be adding another passer in the next day or two.
  • In case you missed it, the Steelers are discussing an extension with cornerback Joe Haden.

AFC North Notes: Bengals, Green, Ravens

Here’s a look at the AFC North:

  • Tyler Boyd‘s new extension will impact the ongoing extension talks between the Bengals and A.J. Green, as The Athletic’s Jay Morrison writes. Still, for what it’s worth, director of player personnel Duke Tobin says that they are separate matters. “It’s not an either/or. It’s a both,” Tobin said. “And we’ll see where we can go with the other. We would like to retain both of them, and we will work to do that and see what we can get done as we go here. It’s nice when you are not the only good receiver on a football team, it helps you. Tyler has been great in that he’s really versatile for us, and he can play a number of different positions. They are different-style guys for our game, and they complement each other well. So whether (Boyd’s) No. 1 or No. 2 or whatever, he’s a good football player and he’s been rewarded for that.”
  • Good news for the Ravens. According to the transactions wire, defensive tackles Michael Pierce and Daylon Mack and outside linebacker Jaylon Ferguson have all passed their physicals. This means that they’re off the non-football injury list and available to practice when things get underway on Thursday. It should be noted that their NFI designation was different from the one that would have automatically ruled them out for a portion of the year, but it’s still a promising sign for the defense.
  • The Browns met with the agent for disgruntled running back Duke Johnson this week.

Extension Candidate: Bengals WR A.J. Green

As one of the league’s most feared wide receivers, an extension for A.J. Green should be fairly simple. Unfortunately, after yet another injury-shortened season, the negotiations figure to be a bit complicated. 

On the plus side, Bengals owner Mike Brown has indicated that he wants Green to remain in Cincinnati on a new deal.

Oh, I think he’s a proven commodity, isn’t he?,” Brown said in March. “The price range for him will be something we can figure out, it will come together. It’s true with anyone, if they suddenly get an injury..it reduces them. Well that changes the equation, but I never plan on that happening. I like to think that won’t happen. If A.J. is healthy, he’s as good a receiver as anybody in the league.”

Ditto for Green:

Cincinnati is home for me,” Green said recently. “I’ve been here nine years. This is home as much as South Carolina. All I know is Cincinnati. I can’t see myself playing anywhere else or playing in a different city. Hopefully I can be here for a couple more years, so we’ll see on that part.”

Will Green have himself a fat new contract before or soon after his 31st birthday in July? That may depend on his willingness to accept a bit of a hometown discount.

Green has missed 13 games due to injury over the past three seasons and the Bengals, historically, have not been big spenders. They’ve also recently extended teammates Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap, so their flexibility is somewhat limited.

Green finished out the 2018 season with just 46 catches for 694 yards and six touchdowns, but when his nine-game season is adjusted for 16 games, those numbers are right in line with his career 75/1,113/8 average. It’s also worth noting that ’18 was only Green’s second season to fall shy of the 1,000-yard mark. The only other time that happened was in 2016, when he came just 36 yards shy, despite playing in just ten games.

Ultimately, a new deal for Green should put him right around Odell Beckham Jr.’s $18MM average annual value, particularly if fellow receivers Julio Jones and Michael Thomas ink their next deals first. Of course, Green’s deal will be shorter in length than OBJs, or, at the very least, have a much lighter load of guarantees beyond Year 2.

For now, Green is set to enter the final season of his four-year, $60MM contract.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Green, Bears, Mack, Steelers

A.J. Green is entering the final season of a four-year, $60MM contract. He is also coming off another injury-shortened slate, with a toe malady cutting it short. Bengals owner Mike Brown said earlier this year he would be interested in Green staying in Cincinnati on another deal. Green expressed the same sentiment over the weekend.

Cincinnati is home for me,” Green said, via FOX 19 in Cincinnati (video link). “I’ve been here nine years. This is home as much as South Carolina. All I know is Cincinnati. I can’t see myself playing anywhere else or playing in a different city. Hopefully I can be here for a couple more years, so we’ll see on that part.”

Green is entering his age-31 season and has missed 13 games over the past three years, but the seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver has proven to be one of the best players in Bengals history. The Bengals extended two other cornerstones last year, in Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap, and Brown called the wideout a “proven commodity” earlier this year. No known talks have commenced between Green and Bengals. The receiver also said, via FOX 19, he has been cleared from the toe surgery he underwent in December. It is not certain if he will participate in Cincinnati’s minicamp next week.

Here is the latest from the North divisions:

  • During the 2018 Khalil Mack pursuit, Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy began calling their Raiders counterparts (Reggie McKenzie and Jon Gruden) about the All-Pro edge defender once training camp began last year. But the Bears’ prevailing thought as of late July 2018 was, in the words of player personnel director Josh Lucas, “What are we doing? They’re not going to trade this guy,” Lucas said (via J.J. Stankevitz of NBC Sports Chicago). But shortly before Chicago’s final preseason game — which occurred a day after the Aaron Donald extension, and as the Raiders’ patience with Mack was running out — Bears brass were told to submit their best offer. That proposal (a package fronted by two first-round picks and a third-rounder) won out. “I think we had an advantage because they wanted him to get out of the AFC, so being an NFC team, I think we had a pretty good chance,” Lucas said. “I don’t think the Raiders thought we were going to be any good last year, so they wanted our first-round pick. So I think that played a part of it.
  • After Adrian Amos and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix started the 2018 season as Bears and Packers safeties, the respective back-line defenders switched cities this year. Clearly on a roll at the Bears100 Celebration this week, Lucas added (via Stankevitz, on Twitter) the Bears consistently graded Clinton-Dix as superior to Amos. Pro Football Focus would disagree with the Bears’ assessment, particularly in 2017 (when the site gave Amos a 90.9 grade and Clinton-Dix a 71.5 mark). The Bears also landed Clinton-Dix for far cheaper (one year, $3MM) than the deal the Packers gave Amos (four years, $36MM), pointing to other teams sharing PFF’s view.
  • Sean Davis switched agents in advance of his contract year, moving from MBK sports management to Drew Rosenhaus, the safety confirmed (via Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). Davis said no extension talks have occurred between he and the Steelers and noted the safety market’s 2019 explosion as a reason he may bet on himself this season. “I just felt like I needed a change,” Davis said, via Fittipaldo, of switching from Eugene Lee to Rosenhaus. “Drew is a top agent, man. … The safety market went up this year. That puts a little more pressure on me to get the job done and to compete for those contracts.” After faring better as a free safety than he did at the strong safety spot in 2017, Davis will remain there this season.