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A.J. Green not willing to settle, will step up again in 2016

For A.J. Green, there’s always work to do for what’s next. This year, he’s ready to step up and take on an even bigger role after an offseason that saw the Bengals’ No. 2 and No. 3 wide receivers walk away from the team.

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NFL: Cincinnati Bengals-Minicamp Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Since Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green showed up in Cincinnati, he’s been the No. 1 wide receiver and someone completely deserving of that role. He’s dominated on-the-field with 1,000+ yard receiving seasons in each of his first five NFL season. This offseason, Green lost two of his best fellow wide receivers to free agency, so he knows that he has work to do for this coming season and will need to step up even more than he’s done in past years.

“I just have to step up more,” Green said in an interview on “We have a lot of young guys who are going to step up for us. Those two guys, we’re going to miss.”

Of course, Green is referring to Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones who left this offseason for the Falcons and Lions respectively.

Even if Green does step up, their losses are still a big hurdle for the team to overcome. And as confident as Green is in his ability to step up to compensate for the offseason losses, that doesn’t mean he is going to change the way he plays the game.

“I think my role is not going to change. I’m still going to go out there and make the best plays I can for my team, put my team in the best position to win,” Green told Dan Hoard in an interview on “Losing Mo and Marvin is big. Those guys deserve everything that they got. But, I feel like we drafted well. We brought in B. LaFell. I feel like that’s really going to help us out.”

The new guys at wide receiver aren’t the only new faces that Green and his teammates will have to get used to this season. In particular, the departure of Hue Jackson at offensive coordinator made way for Bengals quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese to take the reigns at offensive coordinator, a move that Green seems excited about.

“You know Zamp, man. He’s a very smart guy,” Green said. “He’s been around the game a long time with his dad, one of the greatest offensive coordinators this game has seen. I think he has the same knowledge. Having that relationship with Andy as a quarterback coach gives Andy that flexibility to do what he wants.“

Regardless of the new styles that he’ll have to adjust to or the new faces he’ll need to learn to play with, Green feels good about this team’s potential. He has one and only one perspective on how the Bengals can get better: just grind.

“We just have to continue to work hard and bring these young guys along with us and we’re fine.” Green told Hoard.

Green has ingrained in himself a relentless work ethic, which without, he might not be the player he is today.

“I just have to keep working, man” Green told Hoard. “I just never settle with last year’s success. If I approach it like that I’ll be fine.”

This offseason, Green took off only about a month before getting back to hard work, preparing for the 2016 season. “I don’t really take that much time off, really. I’m always doing something,” he said.

That attitude is the same one he brings to the table when dealing with past mistakes. Moving on from a tragedy like what happened in the playoffs last year that is one thing, but forgetting about it is a whole other conversation. Calamity like that sticks in your mind. It can break some, but it can motivate others to succeed.

“I will never forget about it,” Green told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “Probably because that was the highlight of my career to the worst part of my career. That fast. High. Low. It was my first playoff touchdown. Big moment. I finally arrived. Stepping up in a playoff game. It’s something to build off.”

Green is right, how long had we waited for him to get a touchdown in a playoff game? And then, instantly all that excitement was snatched away and trashed. The way the season ended last year was sad, disheartening, dismal, heartbreaking, and any other depressing word you can think of. But, for Green, it’s time to move on and get back to that famous work ethic that made him so great. The tragedy just has to be in the rear view mirror for him at this point.

“I feel like there’s new guys, a new team, and that’s the way we have to approach it,” Green said. But, it all comes back to the most important motto that Green keeps repeating.

“Just keep working,” Green said. “Just never settle.”