It doesn’t look like the Bengals will have A.J. Green in Week 13 as his status for the rest of 2016 remains in limbo.
Green, who suffered a strain in his hamstring during Cincinnati’s Week 11 loss to the Bills, was unable to practice last week before missing Week 12 vs the Ravens. The Bengals were initially optimistic Green could return this season, but now that their playoff hopes are all but dead, one has to wonder if we’ve seen the last of Green this year.
During his Monday meeting with the media, head coach Marvin Lewis conceded that Green is unlikely to play in Week 13 vs the Eagles.
"I do still expect him back," Lewis said of Green returning during the 2016 season. "For this week, we’ll see. Partly cloudy."
It’s funny that Lewis likes using the weather analogies to give injury updates. Like weathermen, Lewis rarely knows what he’s talking about when it comes to injuries and is just throwing darts at the wind. So for all we know, Green will suit up and play this week, though I wouldn’t count on it. What’s more important is Lewis acknowledging he doesn’t expect Green’s season to be over.
Dr. David Chao, a former NFL head team doctor, believes there’s a "reasonable chance" Green returns by Week 16. That would be when the Bengals play the Texans on Christmas Eve.
In 10 games this season, Green leads the Bengals with 66 catches for 964 yards and four scores. If he fails to play in at least one more game, he’ll come up short of his sixth-straight season with at least 1,000 receiving yards to begin his career.
As for the Bengals going forward, they are left with Tyler Boyd, Brandon LaFell, James Wright, Alex Erickson, and Cody Core as their five healthy receivers. Erickson, Core and Boyd are all rookies, and Wright is in just his second full season with the Bengals after missing 2015 due to microfracture surgery.
That group of pass-catchers could only help the Bengals offense muster up 12 offensive points in a 19-14 loss to the Ravens on Sunday. It didn’t help that the ground game accounted for just 64 yards on 20 runs (3.4 avg). Green’s vertical presence alone helps make life easier for the ground game, and it was painfully obvious he was missing during another gut-wrenching loss for Cincinnati.
The Eagles rank fifth in passing defense, so the Bengals having success against their defense may end up being tougher than it was in Baltimore.