The Bengals have finalized their final cuts and formed their 53-man roster for the 2019 season.
One of the most interesting positions was wide receiver, where the Bengals opted to keep seven players. Part of that had to do with the Bengals having a great group of pass-catchers that all deserved to be on the final roster, but even so, most teams don’t keep seven receivers unless there’s an injury to one of them.
Unfortunately for the Bengals, that’s the case with Pro Bowl receiver A.J. Green, who is dealing with an ankle injury that required surgery in the first week of training camp. Even though that was a month ago, Green is still in a walking boot and riding a scooter as Week 1 of the regular season.
The expectation has been Green would 100% miss Game 1 vs. the Seahawks and probably Week 2 vs. the 49ers.
Today, Bengals head coach Zac Taylor gave a brief update on Green, who is not a candidate for the IR-return designation.
Bengals coach Zac Taylor said he feels like WR A.J. Green will be back within the first eight weeks. Said everything is currently on schedule for his rehab.— Ben Baby (@Ben_Baby) August 31, 2019
#Bengals coach Zac Taylor said A.J. Green’s rehab is on schedule. The team still expects him to miss a few games.— Tyler Dragon (@TheTylerDragon) August 31, 2019
David Chao, one of the best there is as diagnosing football injuries, offered this:
True but feels like #AJGreen timeline for return closer to Week 4 or later than Week 1. https://t.co/xuKFkEG398 https://t.co/qEYFVn9Kl3— David J. Chao (@ProFootballDoc) August 31, 2019
At this point, I think Green misses the first four games, and for good reason. Yes, he may be healthy enough to play in Week 4 vs. the Steelers on Monday Night Football, but there is absolutely no reason to rush him back and risk another injury.
Taylor is a brand-new coach who the franchise will be patient with, so he shouldn’t feel pressured to bring Green back to win games. Taylor will have some leeway for at least two seasons, so he won’t rush Green to return.
Now, you may think Green needs to return ASAP and play as much as he can to show he’s worthy of the big contract extension the Bengals were planning to give him, but I don’t think that should be a factor either.
The Bengals no what Green can do, so as long as he can return from this injury and show he’s still the star receiver that had five-straight 1,000-yard seasons, they’ll eventually extend and pay him handsomely. I don’t think they’re going to shortchange Green for missing time due to injury, even if it is the third time he’s had a significant injury in the last four years. They’re going to make him one of the highest-paid receivers as long as he shows he’s still playing at a high level.
All of this is why I wouldn’t expect Green to return until Week 4 at the earliest, and I think it’s very possible he misses a few games after it.
And that’s ok.