A.J. Green

AFC Notes: L. Jackson, Green, Fowler

Before the draft, new Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson refuted reports that multiple teams wanted to him to work out as a wide receiver. Perhaps that was simply because Jackson, who represents himself, wanted to downplay the notion that his quarterback skills will not translate to the professional level, because now that he is officially a first-round pick and is on a team that is committed to his future as a QB, Jackson’s story is a little different.

Jackson said in a recent interview with the Ravens’ official website (video link) that the Chargers were the first team to approach him about running routes during the combine. The 2016 Heisman Trophy winner was taken aback by the request, which triggered his decision to not run the 40-yard dash and to rely on his game film instead.

Of course, Jackson may be deployed as a wide receiver on occasion this year. Joe Flacco remains the Ravens’ starter, but Baltimore wants to take advantage of Jackson’s elite athleticism, so the team is designing packages that will put both players on the field at the same time.

Now let’s take a look at several more AFC items:

  • Bengals WR A.J. Green is entering the fourth year of the five-year pact he signed in September 2015, which made him the highest-paid receiver in the league at the time. In terms of average annual value, Green is now the sixth-highest paid wideout in the game, and if Julio Jones and Odell Beckham Jr. get their way, he will be the eighth-highest paid by the time the regular season rolls around. But as Paul Dehner Jr. and Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer write, it does not sound as if Green will be asking for more money until the expiration of his current deal at the end of the 2019 season. Green supports his colleagues’ efforts to rework their existing contracts, but as for himself, he said, “I don’t really get caught up in what’s the money like because I signed my deal and it was the highest paid at that point. It’s going to always go up. So you can’t keep up with that. At the end of the day [owner Mike Brown] took care of me. I’m still under contract for the next two years and we’ll go from there.” 
  • Yesterday, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com suggested that the Jets could flip Teddy Bridgewater to a QB-needy team for a pass rusher, and he named the Jaguars‘ Dante Fowler as one potential target. However, Florida Football Insiders does not buy the fact that Fowler will be on the move this offseason. 2018 is a critical year for Fowler, who is set for unrestricted free agency in 2019 since the Jags declined his fifth-year option last month. But Jacksonville believes he is an ascending player, and he did put up eight sacks last season, so the club is hoping for continued strong production from him in his platform campaign.
  • We rounded up a series of Patriots-related notes earlier today, and we asked you yesterday what team you think poses the biggest threat to the Pats’ hopes of repeating as AFC champs in 2018. Thus far, PFR readers believe the Steelers have the best chance.

AFC Notes: Dolphins, Green, Ramsey

Just a day after activating offensive lineman Ted Larsen, the Dolphins have decided to make him inactive for their Sunday night affair versus the Raiders. Larsen, 30, was forced onto the injured reserve for the first two months of the season after suffering a torn biceps in the offseason. It remains to be seen how long it’s going to take until Larsen returns to the starting lineup, but he’s expected to replace left guard Jesse Davis at some point over the next few games.

  • Just as a key starter is returning in Larsen, Miami said goodbye to lead running back Jay Ajayi when they dealt him to the Eagles for a fourth round pick on the day of the trade deadline. The move came as a surprise to many Dolphins fans given the importance of the 24 year-old to the team’s offense. Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald opines that the deal was just another in a series of questionable decisions that the franchise has made over the last few years. Salguero points out the team’s moves to get rid of Vontae Davis, Brandon Marshall, Mike Wallace and Karlos Dansby as points in time where the team gave up too early on talent. The trade does open up more playing time for the likes of Kenyan Drake and Damien Williams, but the Dolphins’ offense will certainly look a lot different without Ajayi in the backfield.
  • One of the many brawls as a part pf today’s slate of games came from an incident between Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Green. After Ramsey pushed one of the league’s best receivers after the whistle, Green unleashed a flurry of punches onto the Jaguars second-year defensive back, which prompted both sidelines into a shoving match. Both Green and Ramsey were ejected after the scuffle. However, Green was apologetic about the incident after the loss, as Michael DiRocco and Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com pass along. “I shouldn’t have reacted that way. I apologize to my teammates, [Bengals owner Mike] Brown, and everybody, because that’s not who I am. It just got the best of me today.” We’ll see how the league reacts to the situation as a suspension could be in order given the severity of Green’s reaction.
  • While both players were forced to leave the contest, many around the league pointed out that Ramsey did not actually throw a punch. However, there was some clarity given out on that front after the game. Apparently, the officials said that Ramsey was ejected because they thought he did throw a punch, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Rapoport reports that the Jags cornerback was informed by league officials after the team’s win that he was sent to the locker room because they thought he engaged Green too, even though it appears that Ramsey did not punch back. We’ll have to see how the Jacksonville players and coaches react to the apparent officiating mistake.

AFC Notes: Bengals, Barnidge, Texans, Pats

A “near mutiny” among Bengals players left head coach Marvin Lewis no choice but to fire offensive coordinator Ken Zampese on Friday, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports. The Bengals’ best offensive player, wide receiver A.J. Green, was part of the unhappy bunch, notes Florio, though Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer disputes the notion that there was anything resembling a “mutiny” (Twitter link). There was a disconnect between Zampese and the players, though, Owczarski adds. The Zampese-led Bengals scored a mere nine points in the team’s first two games, both losses, and the offense racked up just 516 yards in that span. Green posted respectable production along the way, picking up 10 receptions for 141 yards, but new O-coordinator Bill Lazor is going to have to involve him (and the Bengals’ other top skill players) in their attack more, Florio observes. Green agrees, having told reporters after Thursday night’s 13-9 loss to Houston: “We are playing like sh– right now. We got to find a way to get our playmakers the ball. That’s it. It’s a superstar-driven league. You are not going to win without them” (via Paul Dehner Jr. of the Enquirer).

More from the AFC:

  • It appears free agent tight end Gary Barnidge‘s stay on the unemployment line will continue. Barnidge worked out for the Texans on Friday, but they’re not going to sign him, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com suggests (on Twitter). The team opted to add tight end MyCole Pruitt to its practice squad after his own Friday tryout. Barnidge carries a more impressive track record than Pruitt and many other tight ends, of course, having logged quality seasons in Cleveland over each of the previous two campaigns. However, the 31-year-old hasn’t been able to find work since the Browns released him after the draft.
  • The Patriots will go without linebacker Dont’a Hightower and wide receiver Danny Amendola in New Orleans on Sunday, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com writes. Hightower suffered a right knee injury in the third quarter of Week 1 against the Chiefs, perhaps helping to pave the way for a late-game collapse from New England’s defense. The Patriots yielded 21 fourth-quarter points en route to a 42-27 loss. Amendola, who was the Patriots’ leading receiver against the Chiefs (six catches, 100 yards), is dealing with a concussion and a knee injury. Down Amendola, Julian Edelman and Malcolm Mitchell, the Pats look poised to take on the Saints with Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan and Phillip Dorsett as their only options in a suddenly thin receiving corps.
  • The Luckless Colts have settled on a quarterback for Week 2.

Bengals Place A.J. Green On IR

A.J. Green‘s season is officially over. Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports (via Twitter) that the star wideout has been placed on the injured reserve. The team has promoted offensive lineman Trey Hopkins from the practice squad to take Green’s roster spot.

A.J. GreenIt appeared that Green was going to make his return from a hamstring injury last weekend, but the organization abruptly announced that the wideout would miss the contest. This caused a bit of drama in the locker room, as Green and his teammates were preparing for the receiver to take the field for the first time since mid-November. Reports indicated that ownership made the decision to keep Green out of the game in an attempt to prevent any further injury.

Despite the fact that the “rug got pulled out from under” the squad, Green denied reports that he was unhappy with the organization. Still, the wideout wasn’t spotted at the Bengals facility this week. ESPN.com’s Bob Holtzman reported that it’s “rare” for an injured player to be absent for so long.

Green finished the 2016 season with 66 receptions for 964 yards and four touchdowns. It was the first time in the 28-year-old’s six-year career that he didn’t finish with at least 1,000 receiving yards. Despite the career-low numbers, Green was still selected as a Pro Bowler for the sixth time.

Hopkins joined the Bengals as an undrafted free agent out of Texas in 2014. The 24-year-old offensive guard was active for the Bengals Week 1 matchup against the Jets, but he didn’t end up taking the field. Hopkins could make his NFL debut this weekend.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Bouye, RG3, Green, Jets, Nelson

Entering this season as a relative unknown, Texans fourth-year corner A.J. Bouye may have moved himself in position to sign a lucrative NFL contract for the first time. A UDFA in 2013 that started just eight games total before 2016, Bouye has stood out on a team that made far bigger investments at corner. A deal for Bouye could cost a team as much as $8MM-per-year in 2017, the Houston Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson notes.

Wilson describes a growing buzz around the physical defender, who could join Trumaine Johnson, Prince Amukamara, Stephon Gilmore and Darius Butler among the list of cornerbacks who stand tot be UFAs. Bouye rates behind only Chris Harris, Malcolm Butler and Aqib Talib among corners this season, according to Pro Football Focus, and will have the chance to stand out on a national stage in a home playoff game.

The Texans have two corners who stand to make more than $7MM next season in Kareem Jackson and Johnathan Joseph. Separating from Jackson would be more difficult financially than Joseph if Houston wished to retain Bouye since $4.5MM in dead money would match the amount the team could save by making that move. Houston stands to have $17MM-plus in cap space prior to making any offseason moves.

PFR’s Dallas Robinson ranked Bouye ninth among all players on his free agent power rankings.

Here’s more from the AFC.

  • Browns quarterback Robert Griffin III suffered a concussion on Saturday, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. His status for Week 17 is not immediately clear. RG3 missed most of this season with a shoulder injury but did become the only Browns QB to start in a win. However, the Browns gave Cody Kessler — the expected Week 17 starter, per Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal — several starts this season and have a decision to make on Griffin. He’s due a relatively small $750K roster bonus in March and would count $9.25MM against Cleveland’s 2017 cap. The Browns could afford that, but Griffin didn’t give them much reason to trust him in 2016.
  • Andy Dalton confirmed a Saturday report that ownership made the decision to yank A.J. Green from the Bengals‘ Week 16 game plan, sending the wideout home for Christmas at his request, Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. “He felt like he was in position [to help the team with a return] and the ownership made a decision,” Dalton said. “Would I have loved to have him out there? Absolutely. But the decision was made.”
  • Bryce Petty also is uncertain for Week 17 after hearing a pop in his shoulder during the Jets‘ loss to the Patriots. The second-year passer left the stadium with his shoulder in a sling and will undergo a Christmas Day MRI, Daryl Slater of NJ.com reports. Ryan Fitzpatrick could be called on to make one more start for Gang Green in the event the team holds Petty out against the Bills. Todd Bowles didn’t dismiss a Christian Hackenberg start, but the rookie has not played in a game this season.
  • By intercepting his fifth pass of the season today, Raiders safety Reggie Nelson earned a $250K incentive bonus, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. In the first season of a two-year contract with Oakland, Nelson made the Pro Bowl for a second straight year and now has 13 INTs in the past two seasons.

Zach Links contributed to this report

A.J. Green Won’t Play Tonight, Likely Done For Season

2:33pm: Although the Bengals aren’t gunning for a playoff spot in Week 16 for the first time since 2010, the coaching staff still had Green embedded in its Week 16 game plan. This decision came down from ownership, Bob Holtzman of ESPN.com reports. “The rug got pulled out from under us,” one source told the reporter, who characterizes some in the organization as being unhappy about this course of action.

Green still made the Pro Bowl but will finish 36 yards shy of his sixth 1,000-yard season in as many tries. Cincinnati, though, has Green signed through the 2019 season and evidently doesn’t view these final two games of a lost season as worth the risk for its cornerstone skill-position player.

11:55am: Following news that Green would likely be shut down for the season, many assumed it was the Bengals’ attempt at keeping Green out of harm’s way as the organization switched their focus to next season.

Well, while that certainly holds merit, it may not be the entire story. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets that Green doesn’t only have a partially torn hamstring. The wideout has also suffered a partially torn tendon that is still healing.

8:57am: A.J. Green is out for tonight’s game, and it sounds like the star wideout’s season is over. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports (via Twitter) that Green will not play in tonight’s game against the Texans, and he notes that the organization isn’t planning on playing the wideout in either of the team’s two remaining games. This is a bit of surprise, as we heard earlier this week that Green was planning on playing this weekend.
Green suffered a hamstring tear in late November, and initial reports hinted that the receiver was going to miss the remainder of the season. However, subsequent reports indicated that the tear wasn’t as severe as initially thought, leading to some optimism that Green would see the field again this season. The wideout added more fuel to that fire with his quotes earlier this month.

I want to get back,” he said. “No matter what type of season we have, I’m not the type of guy to cash it in. So, whenever it’s ready, I’ll be ready to go. But, I’m not going to rush it because I’m not going to have this be a continuing issue.”

If Green is unable to suit up for the rest of the season, he’ll fall 36 yards short of his sixth-straight 1,000-yard campaign. In 10 games this season, the wideout hauled in 66 catches for 964 yards and four touchdowns. The Bengals have relied on wideouts Brandon LaFell and rookie Tyler Boyd during Green’s absence.

The 5-8-1 Bengals have struggled through injuries this season, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Running back Giovani Bernard tore his ACL in late November, ending his campaign early. Tight end Tyler Eifert missed the team’s first six games after struggling through ankle and back injuries, and the Bengals will be sitting the 26-year-old for tonight’s game. To make matters worse, starting running back Jeremy Hill is listed as questionable for this evening’s contest.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bengals WR A.J. Green To Return Saturday

A.J. Green tells reporters that he will return from injury on Saturday. Green has missed multiple games with a hamstring injury. A.J. Green (vertical)

I want to get back,” he said earlier this month. “No matter what type of season we have, I’m not the type of guy to cash it in. So, whenever it’s ready, I’ll be ready to go. But, I’m not going to rush it because I’m not going to have this be a continuing issue.”

The Bengals are not in the playoff mix this year, but Green is a competitor and has been pushing to come back this season. Initially, few thought that a 2016 comeback would be possible. The first reports on Green indicated that he had suffered a complete hamstring tear but further tests showed that it was not quite as severe.

The 5-8-1 Bengals face the Texans on Saturday. They wrap up the season on Jan. 1 at home against the Ravens. If the season ended today, the Bengals would own the No. 10 overall pick in the draft.

With 36 more yards, Green can hit 1,000 yards on the season. That would be his sixth-straight season with 1,000+.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Tannehill, Pitta, Green, Chargers

Ryan Tannehill will get a second opinion on his knee Tuesday after learning earlier today he didn’t tear an ACL but rather sprained his ACL and MCL. The plan for now is for the Dolphins to trot out backup Matt Moore in the next two games in which Tannehill will definitely not play, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reports, and give the franchise passer a chance to stabilize the knee before contemplating a potential Week 17 return against the Patriots.

Salguero notes if the Week 17 game against the Patriots is meaningful for the Dolphins’ playoff hopes and Tannehill wouldn’t risk long-term knee damage, Adam Gase will hound his training staff with questions and consider starting him in a game that could well have home-field advantage on the line for the Pats. However, Salguero notes Tannehill’s ACL is partially torn since it’s been categorized as a sprain, and there will likely be a risk of a full tear if he returns in three weeks.

Additionally, if Tannehill cannot recover in time for the New Year’s Day tilt, the Dolphins will keep him on the roster in 2017 to guarantee $14.5MM of his salary next season. The team will reinstall the former first-round pick as its starting quarterback next season, Salguero writes, with the Jay Cutler talk no longer being a possibility despite Tannehill’s cap number escalating from $11.6MM to $20.3MM.

Here’s more from the AFC.

  • It’s time for the Bills to bench Tyrod Taylor and install Cardale Jones as the starter, ESPN.com’s Mike Rodak opines. The Bills, of course, have to decide on Taylor this offseason and it would behoove them to know what they have in their young backup. “He’s working hard,” offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn said recently of Jones. “He’s a gunslinger, strong arm. You watch him in scout team, we evaluate his reps in scout team. He’s putting the ball in the right places. He’s accurate. I think his development is coming along fine.” Recently, GM Doug Whaley insisted that he won’t be turning things over to Jones, but things could be different after yesterday’s loss to Pittsburgh. The Bills are now 6-7 with slim odds of reaching the postseason.
  • Matt Forte is day-to-day after hyper-extending his right knee, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com reports. Although the Jets starter heard “cracking and popping” before the knee swelled, Forte was confident there was no ligament damage. Bilal Powell totaled 179 yards from scrimmage and two TDs in relief. Forte has played in all 13 Jets games this season; he’s only missed three contests in a single campaign twice and never more than four.
  • Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta will max out his incentives for 2016, as Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com writes. Under the terms of his reworked contract, Pitta’s salary was cut from $5MM to $1MM, but the Ravens added $3MM in incentives to help bridge the gap. The 31-year-old needed to catch 60 passes for a $1MM receptions incentive and he’s already topped that with 61. He also has to appear in 50% of the team’s snaps for the other $2MM and he’s in line to do that as well.
  • Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis says wide receiver A.J. Green expects to return to practice on Wednesday, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter). With Cincinnati sitting at 5-7-1, a Green return would be more important to fantasy players than the Bengals’ 2016 season at this point. Green has missed the past three games with a severe hamstring injury. He sits 36 yards away from a sixth straight 1,000-yard slate.
  • Continuing on the injury front, Melvin Gordon has both a hip strain and a left knee sprain, Eric Williams of ESPN.com notes. Gordon underwent microfracture surgery on the same knee this offseason. The Chargers fell to 5-8 after losing to the Panthers on Sunday, and although Gordon wants to finish the season, his injury history may point to the Bolts exercising caution here. Gordon didn’t finish the 2015 season due to injury and then had surgery. If Gordon’s season ends after 13 games, he’ll finish three rushing yards shy of 1,000 in a bounce-back year. Mike McCoy said that number will have no bearing on whether the second-year back returns in 2016.
  • The NFL has suspended Chargers defensive end Tenny Palepoi for four games for violating the league policy on performance-enhancing substances.

Zach Links contributed to this report

AFC Notes: Green, Broncos, Raiders

Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green is progressing in his recovery from the hamstring injury he suffered Nov. 20, but he’ll miss Sunday’s game against the Eagles, according to Bob Holzman of ESPN. Although the 3-7-1 Bengals are all but out of playoff contention, the five-time Pro Bowler has no plans to shut himself down for the season. “I want to get back,” he told Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer“No matter what type of season we have, I’m not the type of guy to cash it in. So, whenever it’s ready, I’ll be ready to go. But, I’m not going to rush it because I’m not going to have this be a continuing issue.”

More from the AFC:

  • Safety Darian Stewart‘s four-year, $28MM extension with the Broncos includes $13MM in fully guaranteed money, per Mike Klis of 9NEWS. He has already received $3.5MM of a $7MM signing bonus, the other half of which he’ll collect March 15. Stewart’s $6MM base salary for 2017 is fully guaranteed, while his $4.5MM salary for 2018 is guaranteed for injury only and will convert to a full guarantee on the fifth day of the 2018 league year.
  • Raiders coach Jack Del Rio still expects defensive lineman Mario Edwards Jr. to return this year, Scott Bair of CSNCalifornia.com tweets. Del Rio is uncertain when Edwards would come back, however. The second-year man went on injured reserve with a hip ailment prior to Week 1 and still hasn’t played this season. If the Raiders designate Edwards to return from IR, they’ll have a three-week window to activate him.
  • The latest on the Jets, including a Christian Hackenberg update.

Bengals’ A.J. Green Not Ruled Out For Season

Good news for the Bengals. Wide receiver A.J. Green did not suffer a full hamstring tear, as initially feared (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com). According to one source, he’ll probably miss a few weeks and won’t require surgery. The hamstring only has a small tear/strain, so he may be able to play through it. Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com tweets that Green will miss this week’s game against the Ravens.

A.J. GreenGreen gave fans everywhere a major scare when he was carted off the field early in Sunday’s contest between the Bengals and Bills. In the midst of another incredible season, that looked to be the end of Green’s year. Now, Green can be back for the home stretch of the regular season. The Bengals are not technically out of the playoff running, but it will take a lot for them to go from 3-6-1 to a playoff berth.

For the sixth consecutive season, Green has put up elite receiving numbers. The 28-year-old has hauled in 66 receptions this year for 964 yards and four touchdowns. In fact, even though he failed to collect a catch during yesterday’s contest, Green still ranks in the top-five in receptions and receiving yards. The 2011 first-round pick has only missed four regular season games in his career, including three in 2014 as he recovered from a toe injury.

In Green’s absence, the Bengals will be forced to rely on wideouts Brandon LaFell and Tyler Boyd. LaFell, 30, was signed by the Bengals this offseason, and the veteran has compiled 33 receptions for 419 yards and four touchdowns this season. Meanwhile, the Bengals used their second-round pick to select Boyd, a Pittsburgh standout. The rookie had been relatively quiet through the first two months of the season, although he did catch his first touchdown yesterday.

The Bengals offense took another hit yesterday, as running back Giovani Bernard tore his ACL. The 24-year-old is expected to miss the rest of the season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.