The 2019 regular season is already halfway over. A.J. Green has yet to be on the field for the Cincinnati Bengals since suffering an injury on the first day of training camp. It was initially believed that he might miss little to no time in the regular season, but the injury has taken a prolonged recovery time now lasting months instead of weeks.
After returning to practice last week in a limited capacity, there was optimism that he might be ready for the Bengals’ next game; however, he was essentially declared out yesterday after he did not participate in practice with his ankle swelling.
He told reporters, however, that he’s not getting frustrated, because he understands that it’s a process and that there is nothing he can do about it. He also noted that he is choosing not to push the injury because he has had significant setbacks twice before, including last season, when trying to accelerate his return from injury.
“For me, I can’t go out there when I’m not 100 percent”, he said, via the team’s website. “It makes no sense for me to put myself in that situation to where I can have another time hurting, just like I did my toe. It’s all about make sure I’m taking care of myself first. Everything else comes after that”.
Green, the fourth-overall pick in 2011, had been a Pro Bowler in every season of his career until last year, during which he missed about half of the year due to that toe injury. He has missed 16 of the past 17 games now, and hardly played in that 17th game, re-aggravating the toe injury after trying to return too soon.
“I don’t look that far ahead. I just take it day-by-day”, he said about the future of his season. “If that comes to a point where I can’t play, that’s what’s supposed to happen. Then my ankle’s not where I need to be for me to play. Right now, I’m still thinking I still can play. I still can give this thing a little bit more time and then we go from there”.
Whenever he does return this season—assuming that he does return—it won’t be Andy Dalton throwing him the football, but rather rookie fourth-round pick Ryan Finley. First-year head coach Zac Taylor said at the outside of their bye last week that he was making the long-term decision to give Finley a look.
Green is in the final year of his contract. While he has frequently expressed a desire to spend his entire career in Cincinnati, he also recently expressed resistance to the franchise tag. It will be interesting to see how his contract status plays out in the offseason.