Nothing is coming easy for first-time head coach Zac Taylor, is it? He has already likely lost the first draft pick he has ever made, first-round tackle Jonah Williams, for the season. Williams was expected to be the left tackle this year, and his injury has forced the Cincinnati Bengals to do a lot of shuffling along the offensive line.
To top it off, the offense has not had two of its top three wide receivers on the field for much of the offseason, John Ross currently missing time with a hamstring injury. A.J. Green was limited in the spring while continuing to recover from the toe injury that ended his 2018 season prematurely.
And now he’s injured again, having suffered torn ligaments in his left ankle during the team’s first training camp practice. The Bengals were practicing on the field of the University of Dayton at the behest of the NFL as part of their efforts to celebrate their 100th anniversary. Though the team formally approved the field after an inspection, there were those within the staff and roster who expressed concerns about its condition even before Green’s injury.
Which is now worse, for the second time, than initially hoped. When the injury first happened, Taylor was optimistic that it would be a minor, short-term ankle sprain. Following an MRI a day later, it was found that he had indeed suffered tears in the ankle, but that he would not need surgery. His timeline was set at six to eight weeks, making it dicey as to whether or not he would be on the field to start the season.
Now, it’s almost suffered that he will not be, and in fact he may miss a few games. Because the ankle injury proved to be significant enough to justify a cleanup surgical procedure, which just took place. Taylor said yesterday that “there’s a good chance he’s going to miss a couple games”.
He did add that the team is still “hopeful” that he will be back to start the season, but that seems unlikely at this point. He also reiterated that the injury was “a little more extensive than we initially thought”.
Green was the fourth-overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, and he played well enough to make the Pro Bowl in each of his first seven seasons, including a 2016 campaign in which he only played in 10 games due to injury. The 2018 season is the first year in which he played and failed to reach the postseason, even though he did put up good numbers relative to the amount that he did play.
To make matters even more complicated, the 31-year-old receiver is heading into the final year of his contract. Owner Mike Brown previously said that there would be no hesitation to sign him to an extension in spite of his toe injury last season, but now he has a new injury that will likely bleed into the regular season.