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A.J. Green says Bengals won’t rush John Ross onto field

Even if Ross isn’t hurried along during his rookie year, he should see significant playing time as along as he’s healthy.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals-John Ross Press Conference Sam Greene-USA TODAY Sports

When the Cincinnati Bengals drafted A.J. Green with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the expectation was for him to become an immediate contributor and focal point of the team’s offense.

Green has lived up to and exceeded all expectations, getting selected to the Pro Bowl in each of his six NFL seasons and surpassing 1,000 receiving yards in five of those six seasons. Green was just 36 yards shy of the milestone when he suffered a season-ending hamstring injury in Week 11 of the 2016 season.

Last season was not a good one for the Bengals, so naturally, you’d think the team’s Round 1 draft pick, a top 10 selection, would be expected to take on a major role with the team this season to help lead to a much-improved record.

But, Green says the Bengals won’t rush fellow wide receiver and first round pick John Ross onto the field, as was the case for him in 2011. In his rookie year, Green recorded 453 receiving yards before the team's Week 7 bye and finished the season with 1,057 yards and 7 touchdowns.

“You know, with John (Ross) we’re not going to rush him in,” Green said. “We’ve got guys that can play with ‘Jo’ (Brandon LaFell) and ‘TB’ (Tyler Boyd) so that’s one thing; he’s not going to have to be pressured to play right away. We’ve got a great receiving corps, so we’re going to give him some of his plays and let him work himself in.”

The Bengals didn’t have as great of a receiving corps last year, but used the same method with Boyd, the team’s 2016 second round pick. Boyd was brought along slowly last season, though his best two games in terms of receiving yards were before Week 7. He finished his rookie year with 603 yards and 1 touchdown.

Even if Ross is brought along slowly, he figures to play a big role in his rookie season as his speed is a huge factor and there’s no way the Bengals can ignore such a major asset to the offense.

Elsewhere among the receiver unit, Green is scouting his teammates and assessing what they’re doing to improve from last season. One player who has caught his attention — as well as the attention of Andy Dalton — is Cody Core.

“That’s what I’m looking for in the young guys, something they didn’t do well last year, have they worked on to get better this year,” Green said. “I feel like the biggest guy that’s improving is Cody Core. I feel like he’s been really working on his craft this offseason and getting better... You can tell on the field. How fast ‘TB’ (Boyd) is playing.”

And while the receiver unit took a step back last season (as did the team as a whole) Green believes the group can get back to the way it was playing in 2015 when Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu were on the roster and the Bengals’ offense was nearly unstoppable.

“They can all make plays all over the field,” Green said of his teammates. “I feel like we’re getting back to where we were in 2015 with Marvin, Mo. I feel like once TB gets settled in, he’ll be able to play faster because now he knows what to do and the way CC (Core) is coming along, and after adding Ross and adding (rookie running back Joe) Mixon, I feel like we’re getting back to that 2015 roster.”

If the Bengals can get back to the way they were playing in 2015, and if the team’s star players stay healthy, the sky is the limit.