"I have not. I said that after three days of training camp. He’s the best first-round draft pick that I’ve ever been around. He continues to amaze me every day. Practice, games, whatever it is. His demeanor. His abilities. Whatever he does. He came out to practice on Wednesday and it was like he had had a month off. The energy in his legs and the spring. He’s a phenomenal athlete."
That is what Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said about rookie wide receiver A.J. Green during the team's post-game press conference Sunday night. Green had just almost single-handedly handed the Bengals a win by catching a jump ball thrown up to him over Joe Haden that set up the Bengals game-winning field goal.
When have you ever heard Marvin Lewis talk like that about any one of his players?
By getting rid of some of the look at me players, you know who they are, and starting fresh in 2011, the team seems to finally be buying into what Marvin Lewis has been trying to sell for the last nine seasons. Not only has he changed the entire team from what it has been over the last decade but this team seems to be changing him as well.
Lewis has been around some top-notch first-round talent, including guys like Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Carson Palmer, and to say that Green is the best first-round pick he's ever been around is a pretty big deal. Of course, we have to realize that he's excited about his team and its future and he can't go around saying that nobody on his own team is as good as Lewis is, but it's still weird to hear Marvin make comments like this when all we usually get is the worst coach speak in the world.
When asked about his uncharacteristic praise of Green, Lewis said he's changing.
"I’m turning a new leaf. They (Dalton and Green) are two special guys. They really are. I told the team their rookie year is over. I told the team a week ago, they are done (being rookies). We’re counting on them like veteran players and that’s what we need down the stretch. "
The Bengals seem to have the right attitude from top to bottom to make it into the post season. They have both veteran leadership as well as leadership from their rookie quarterback. They have the knowledge that comes with experience from guys like Andrew Whitworth and Chris Crocker and they have just the right amount of cockiness from their youth that helps them along the way. Knowing that their head coach has faith in them as well will help the Bengals come out victorious in tight spots.
Even though they're rookies. It seems that guys like A.J. Green and Andy Dalton will have places on the Bengals field for years to come. They're both good right now and the crazy thing is, especially for Green, is that they're only going to get better.