For the first time in nearly a calendar year, the Cincinnati Bengals tasted the sweet flavors of an NFL victory. Even so, long-term questions on some of their biggest-named players linger as critical decisions loom in the 2020 offseason.
One such choice centers around star receiver, A.J. Green. Since suffering an ankle injury in the first practice of training camp, Green hasn’t suited up for a game and has rarely practiced.
When speaking to the media after the team’s first win of the 2019 season, Green was both optimistic and vague regarding the outlook of his immediate future:
Bengals WR A.J. Green said he hasn't experienced any swelling in his ankle recently and "everything's trending up." However, he said he still doesn't know if he will play this season. "When my ankle feels good enough to play, then I’ll play," Green said... https://t.co/QQBnCIgjUx— Ben Baby (@Ben_Baby) December 1, 2019
The aforementioned swelling has kept Green out of the lineup after participating in a few practices. Green ran through a few full practices and other limited scenarios, but just didn’t feel well enough to play an actual game.
Since the injury first occurred, it has become a devolving situation. Initially, Week 1 was maybe on the table of discussion, as no procedures were publicly known. Since, we found out that a clean-out of the joint was done and months, not weeks, have passed as it has been all but a wasted season for Green.
There are a couple of schools of thought when it comes to Green and how both he and the Bengals have been handling his rehab situation. Some wonder why the Pro Bowl receiver doesn’t push through these issues, as “no NFL player is ever 100 percent”. If the Bengals were in the middle of a playoff run this year, some feel as if Green would be more apt to return to the lineup a little more quickly.
Others understand the receiver’s “business decision”, as he is entering a contract year. He has said that he’d like to come back to Cincinnati and potentially end his career with the Bengals on his next contract, but he is unwilling to risk long-term damage and/or a situation where he’d need another procedure to potentially affect his 2020 outlook.
It’s unclear as to where Bengals management stands in the fray. Obviously, they want to have Green back for either a 2020 Andy Dalton bridge year, or a new era with a rookie signal-caller, but they also want to gain fair market price for an aging receiver who has missed 25 games with various ailments the past four seasons.
The Bengals may have bungled the initial timeline, diagnosis and subsequent treatment of Green’s summertime injury, but they’re showing wisdom in letting the star pass-catcher return at his own pace. Regardless, whomever calls upon Green for his services next year will likely want to see something from him this year, as some sort of proof he’ll be ready by next spring.