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Bengals continue to play the waiting game with A.J. Green

The 7-time Pro Bowler is worth the wait.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Buffalo Bills
A.J. Green
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

When the player on the sidelines is better than anyone between the lines, maybe it’s better to wait.

And that’s just what the Bengals are doing when it comes to A.J. Green.

Instead of putting Green on the Injured Reserve list and ending his season, Cincinnati is hoping against hope that Green will get healthy in time to make an appearance in at least a couple of the five remaining games.

“He wants to play,” Bengals’ head coach Zac Taylor told recently. “I don’t ‘think’ he does — I know he does. Right now, we continue to carry him (on the roster), and we’re hopeful every week that it may be different, and we’ll take it from there.”

And why not wait? Green, who made the Pro Bowl in each of his first seven years in the league, and only missed out last year because of an injury, is that much better than anyone who might try to take his place.

Among active receiver’s throughout the NFL, Green’s 8,907 yards stands seventh best. His 63 touchdown receptions is tied with Vernon Davis for fifth best and well ahead of Julio Jones, the player he is most often compared to.

Given the fact that the Bengals are currently carrying only five receivers on the active roster (Tyler Boyd, Damion Willis, Auden Tate, Alex Erickson and Stanley Morgan), and only two on the practice squad (rookies Trenton Irwin of Stanford and Cody Thompson of Toledo), there is really not much choice. So they wait.

Green, who injured his ankle on the first day of training camp and only had one real day of practice before reaggravating the injury, didn’t practice on Wednesday, and continues to be listed as day-to-day. But Taylor refuses to give up hope.

“I’ll know more tomorrow as we get through it,” Taylor said. “He’s not going to practice today. Tonight, we’ll see where he’s at for tomorrow.”

It’s a common refrain.

”I ask the question every day,” Taylor said. “‘Where are we at for tomorrow?’ We just take it from there.”

Ultimately, the final decision rests with Green.

“There are some things that he doesn’t feel comfortable with when he runs and when he cuts,” Taylor said. “We want to make sure we feel confident putting him out there, and that he’s ready to help us.”

Normally, a player would need at least a week of practice before he would even think of getting back on the field. But this is A.J. Green, and Andy Dalton, who has been reinserted into the lineup, is the only quarterback Green has ever really known at the pro level. So, there is still a chance that Green will make his first appearance of the year against the Jets Sunday.

“He hasn’t practiced at all, really,” Taylor said. “It’s going on a couple months now, so you’d like him to get a couple practices under his belt just for his confidence and Andy’s confidence. Any great player still needs reps to be able to throw the ball to each other. We’ll just take it day-to-day right now.”