After missing the first eight games of the season for the Bengals, it looks like A.J. Green’s 2019 debut is going to be delayed at least one more week, and in the worst scenario, it might not ever happen.
The wide receiver told reporters on Thursday that he “probably” won’t be on the field when the Bengals host the Ravens on Sunday. The Bengals were hopeful that Green would be able to return from his ankle injury this week, but those plans went out the window on Wednesday when the receiver’s ankle started to swell up on him.
“I can’t go out there when I’m not 100 percent,” Green said, via The Athletic. “It makes no sense for me to put myself in that situation to where I can have another time hurting (it), just like I did my toe. It’s all about make sure I’m taking care of myself first. Everything else comes after that.”
Green suffered his injury nearly 15 weeks ago, and after his latest setback, he’s not sure when he’ll be able to return to the field.
“I don’t know,” Green said, via the team’s official website. “For me, I just go make sure I feel comfortable going out there and pushing it. I just got to make sure I take care of me first before anything else.”
At one point on Thursday, Green was asked if he thought he might end up missing the entire season and his answer shouldn’t exactly comfort Bengals fans.
“If that comes to a point where I can’t play, then that’s what’s supposed to happen, then my ankle’s not where I need to be for me to play,” Green said. “But right now, I’m thinking I still can play. I still can give this thing a little bit more time and then we’ll go from there.”
For now, Green said he’s going to take things “day-by-day.”
“I don’t look that far ahead,” Green said of missing the entire season. “I just take it day-by-day.”
Green’s status has basically done a 180 compared to where it was on Wednesday. Less than 24 hours ago, Bengals coach Zac Taylor sounded pretty confident that he was going to get to see the Bengals star receiver on the field for the first time since he took over as the head coach in Cincinnati.
“I do think,” Taylor told reporters. “He’s been making great progress this week. [Last] Wednesday was a good day, Monday was a good day, now he’s getting back in the fold. We’ll have a good plan in place for him on Sunday.”
At some point after Taylor made those comments, Green’s ankle started acting up on him. Although Green has already missed eight games this season, the winless Bengals could have definitely used him this week, and that’s because the team will be starting a rookie quarterback. Taylor Andy Dalton last week, which has set the stage for fourth-round pick Ryan Finley to make his NFL debut against the Ravens.
Green has been sidelined since late July when he injured his ankle during the Bengals’ first practice of training camp. The receiver’s injury has left the Bengals in a precarious position when it comes to his future in Cincinnati. Green’s contract is set to expire after the 2019 season, which means the team could either let him walk in free agency, sign him to an extension or hit him with the franchise tag. The problem for the Bengals is that Green has made it clear he doesn’t want to be tagged, and an extension could be risky due to the 31-year-old’s injury history.
If the Bengals won’t give him a long-term deal, it sounds like Green would be more than willing to sign with a team that is willing to give him one.
“I don’t really care about (the contract negotiations),” Green said, via The Athletic. “If they’re worried about me not playing or not being healthy, then there’s 32 teams out there. I’m not really worried about that situation.”
If Green does end up leaving in free agency, it will make the Bengals look crazy for not trying to deal him at the trade deadline.