With Cincinnati Bengals star wide receiver A.J. Green expected to miss up to two months with torn ligaments in his ankle, suffered while playing on the field of the University of Dayton rather than the team’s usual training camp facilities, it stands to reason that they need all the help at the position that they can get right now as they look to install a new offense.
They’re not going to get that help, it seems, as one of their other top three receivers, 2017 first-round draft pick John Ross, could miss the next few weeks himself. Ross has dealt with injuries even going back to college, so this is unfortunately nothing new for him.
Ross is reportedly dealing with a hamstring strain of some kind that could have him on the shelf for the next couple of weeks, which means that currently, Andy Dalton and the first-team offense is running with just Tyler Boyd and a bevy of rather undistinguished gentlemen.
The Bengals’ top trio of Green, Boyd, and Ross has the potential to be very good—they should be, as they consist of two top-10 picks and a second-rounder—the rest of their depth chart as wide receiver is nothing to write home about. The primary additional faces are Cody Core, Alex Erickson, and Josh Malone. Don’t feel bad if you haven’t heard of them, even though they were all on the roster last year.
Core was the ‘next man up’ so far as the number two receiver with both Green and Ross sidelined. A sixth-round pick in 2016, he has caught 30 passes in his three-year career for 360 yards and one touchdown. He had caught just over half of his 59 targets, which is not overwhelmingly impressive. But 6’3” with a little speed will get you chances.
While it’s not a permanent state, as both Green and Ross will be back, Boyd is now the leader of the pack on the field, though that’s nothing incredibly new, as he functioned as the team’s top receiver for most of the second half of last season when Green was shelved with a toe injury.
“I felt pretty comfortable in that area” last season, he said of being the number one. “I try to keep everybody around me motivated and confident. If they drop the ball or something, it’s cool, bro. You just make the next play. I just want to make sure no one puts their head down. Just continue to go out there and make plays”.
In fact, Green and Ross were both limited in the spring as well, so this hasn’t been a wholly new experience at all. Boyd recalled his experience in OTAs without them as he faces the next couple of weeks at least as the only veteran contributor, saying, “I feel pretty comfortable with it”.
Do the coaches? Probably not. But it’s not like there’s anything they can do about it.