A healthy, in-his-prime A.J. Green is a dream come true for a rookie quarterback. Fortunately for Joe Burrow, he may be getting just that.
During last week’s practices, the 32-year-old receiver’s teammates said essentially the same thing: he’s back.
Bengals.com’s Geoff Hobson mentioned an interesting conversation between sixth-year tight end C.J. Uzomah and second-year tight end Drew Sample, who only saw Green in practice in his first year and was taken aback by the receiver’s athleticism.
“We’re just running routes and haven’t gone full speed against the defense,” said Uzomah. He then added, laughing, “Drew only saw him last year for, what, that first practice? He said, ‘I forgot how explosive he is.’ I told him, ‘You haven’t seen the half of it yet.’”
Meanwhile, Alex Erickson simply said, “He looks like A.J. Green.” And yes, it’s just the start of camp and they’re not playing in pads or at full speed yet. Still, the fifth-year receiver knows what he saw:
“You can tell when a guy looks explosive and he looks explosive. The quick twitch. He’s bending, getting in and out of routes. It’s awesome seeing A.J. Green back out there.”
Erickson knows what a healthy Green can add, and it’s not just about his individual production. Rather, the seven-time Pro Bowler changes the dynamic of the entire offense. Erickson said:
“I think he’s confident. He’s had the time to build himself back up. He just makes us a much better team. When he’s out there, he’s got a presence to him. He’s out there working, pulling everyone along.”
All very, very good signs. No matter where you stand on keeping him long-term, even one year of Green could potentially do wonders for Burrow’s development. Just think of his catch radius, end-zone presence, and refined route-running. He’s precisely the kind of receiver who can accentuate a QB’s positive attributes and hide his flaws. And, as Erickson indicated, he makes the job of the entire offense easier.