Ben­gals must ad­just with­out Green

The Columbus Dispatch - - Front Page - By Paul Dehner Jr.

CINCIN­NATI — Of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tors en­joy draw­ing up cre­ative plays. They live in a world of find­ing unique ways to mis­di­rect de­fend­ers and use dif­fer­ent per­son­nel to free up big plays.

But Bill La­zor of the Cincin­nati Ben­gals did not en­joy hav­ing to get cre­ative af­ter A.J. Green’s toe in­jury.

“I didn’t think of the word fun," La­zor said with a smile and laugh. “I think I’d rather have him.”

Of­fense with­out Green isn’t as fun, but it is life for the Ben­gals right now. Af­ter Sun­day, ev­ery open­ing-day skill po­si­tion player ex­cept Tyler Boyd, C.J. Uzomah and Andy Dal­ton will have been in­ac­tive for at least one game.

“Ev­ery time we’ve lost some­one, we’ve tried to be cre­ative to pick up the slack and get the next guys to help us move on,” La­zor said. “It’s kind of hap­pened a few times this year al­ready. This is foot­ball and it keeps mov­ing, the most im­por­tant thing is long term we have to keep get­ting bet­ter.”

That starts with nec­es­sary Re­ceiver Tyler Boyd is one of the few Ben­gals skill-po­si­tion play­ers who have not missed time due to in­juries this sea­son.

de­vel­op­ment from a group of young re­ceivers that haven’t built on promis­ing train­ing camp and pre­sea­son. John Ross, Josh Mal­one, Cody Core, Alex Erick­son and Au­den Tate will be asked to help plug the hole left by Green.

The five have com­bined for 19 re­cep­tions for 165

yards and two touch­downs, both by Ross. They’ve been urged to step into the spot­light through the first half of the sea­son play­ing along­side Green and Boyd.

“It’s hard when you got two guys who are play­ing out of their mind,” Ross said. “You have A.J. who is go­ing to be A.J. ev­ery sin­gle

year. You have Tyler Boyd who has blos­somed to be one of the best re­ceivers in this league. It’s hard for Andy to ac­tu­ally say 'I’m go­ing to get the ball to ev­ery­one.'”

From La­zor’s per­spec­tive, he’s re­mained fo­cus on let­ting the plays stand for them­selves and not worry as much about who is run­ning them. Even though you play to the strength of your per­son­nel, on game day, there’s a cer­tain trust that has to be part of ev­ery call.

“I’m to­tally con­fi­dent be­cause that’s how you have to live,” La­zor said. “If you are call­ing the play you can’t have any doubt in your mind. You call ev­ery play like it’s go­ing to work. So, it’s just like the open­ing game of the year when we had ev­ery­one. You do the same thing. Call ev­ery play like it’s go­ing to work. You have to be­lieve in it be­cause maybe they feel what you be­lieve. You have to put that in your mind.”

The last time Dal­ton played with­out Green was the fi­nal six games of the 2016 sea­son. His yards per at­tempt dropped from 8.1 with Green to 7.37 with­out. Dal­ton’s passer rat­ing only saw a neg­li­gi­ble dif­fer­ence.

“You’re los­ing the best player on our team,” Dal­ton said. “Just from the start, you never want that to hap­pen. The cov­er­ages may be dif­fer­ent be­cause he’s not out there. We’ll have to see the plan and what teams are go­ing to do now with him not out there, and we’ll have to ad­just.”


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