When it comes to the AFC North, pretty much everybody who isn’t the Pittsburgh Steelers has been in freefall lately. The Cleveland Browns fired both their head coach and offensive coordinator and still got dominated. The Baltimore Ravens, at one point 3-1, are now 4-5 after losing four of their last five. And the Cincinnati Bengals, while still 5-3, have been riddled with injuries.
The latest significant injury news comes regarding their best offensive player, wide receiver A.J. Green, who has been a Pro Bowler every year of his career to date. The Bengals host the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, but their biggest offensive weapon won’t be on the field with them.
While Head Coach Marvin Lewis refused to give a clear answer other than to acknowledge that the wide receiver would not have to undergo surgery for a toe injury, ESPN reports that Green is expected to miss at least two weeks. He just saw a foot specialist to guide his recovery.
“We’re getting ready to play New Orleans, and when A.J. is back and ready to go, he’ll back and ready to go”, Lewis said. “Hopefully, through that time, whether it’s this week or next week or whenever that is, we have an opportunity to grow and get better with other people, and that’s important. A.J. will continue to do what A.J. does, bust his tail to get back out there as soon as he can”.
Second-year wide receiver John Ross was among the many injured players for the Bengals who returned to the field for the team yesterday, as was Giovani Bernard, both of whom have been out for a while, even missing the game against the Steelers.
But with Green sidelined, they still promoted a wide receiver from the practice squad. In a corresponding move, they put second-year pass rusher Carl Lawson, who tore his ACL before the bye week, on injured reserve.
Those who remain sidelined or only working on the rehab field for Cincinnati are starters Vontaze Burfict and Nick Vigil at linebacker, as well as slot cornerback Darqueze Dennard, all three of whom were injured in the game against the Steelers. Tight end Tyler Kroft is also far from returning, and C.J. Uzomah didn’t practice either, though expects to play.
While rookie center Billy Price, who hasn’t played since mid-September, has returned to the field, guard Clint Boling did not practice after getting injured before the bye week, so that is yet another story to follow for the Bengals.
They have two big games on deck over the next two weeks and figure to have to go through them without Green. As mentioned, up next is the Saints, one of the top teams in the NFC, and then they go on the road to face the Baltimore Ravens, who will be coming out of their bye and in desperate need of a win.