Driskel on los­ing Green: It takes toll on team

Slump­ing Bengals will need to make big ad­just­ments with­out Green.

Dayton Daily News - - FRONT PAGE - By Lau­rel Pfahler Con­tribut­ing Writer

A.J. Green re-ag­gra­vated the toe in­jury that side­lined him for three games, and the Bengals placed him on in­jured re­serve.

The Cincin­nati Bengals just got A.J. Green back last week, and now he’s done for the year.

In his re­turn to ac­tion Sun­day, Green reag­gra­vated the toe in­jury that side­lined him for three games, and the Bengals placed him on in­jured re­serve Wed­nes­day.

In a cor­re­spond­ing move, Cincin­nati ac­ti­vated cor­ner­back Davon­tae Har­ris from the re­serve/in­jured list, where he be­gan the sea­son be­cause of a knee in­jury un­til he was des­ig­nated for re­turn Nov. 14.

“That’s huge,” quar­ter­back Jeff Driskel said. “Los­ing A.J. is a big deal, but at the end of the day, we have other good play­ers out there, and the coaches are go­ing to do a good job of get­ting those guys in po­si­tion to make plays, and we have full con­fi­dence that who­ever is out there play­ing re­ceiver is go­ing to make those plays. It’s def­i­nitely dif­fer­ent (pre­par­ing with­out him). You have to draw some things up a lit­tle dif­fer­ently, move some peo­ple around, but we’re go­ing to have to over­come and make some plays in his ab­sence.”

Green orig­i­nally in­jured the toe mak­ing a catch against Tampa Bay to set up a win­ning field goal. Dur­ing the bye week after that, he met with a foot spe­cial­ist in Green Bay to de­ter­mine whether he needed surgery and came back with the un­der­stand­ing he could re­turn to play within a cou­ple of weeks.

Two weeks turned into three, de­spite some hope with a “ques­tion­able” des­ig­na­tion two days be­fore the Cleve­land game Nov. 25, but Green fi­nally re­turned to prac­tice last Wed­nes­day and had no re­stric­tions by Fri­day. In the sec­ond quar­ter against Den­ver on Sun­day, he crum­pled to the ground two steps into his route and couldn’t put pres-

sure on his right foot.

Green was in tears go­ing to the locker room on a cart.

“When you lose any­body, es­pe­cially a guy like him who can take over a game, it makes it tough,” Driskel said. “I’m just hop­ing for the best for him and his health. Any time you lose an A.J. Green, it takes its toll on the foot­ball team.”

As much as he tried to ad­just, los­ing Green midgame made things a lit­tle more dif­fi­cult on Driskel, who made his first NFL start this past Sun­day after Andy Dal- ton went on in­jured re­serve with a thumb in­jury suf­fered against Cleve­land.

Now, Driskel is prepar- ing a lit­tle dif­fer­ently with­out Green.

“We planned as if A.J. was back,” of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Bill La­zor said. “We as­sumed not play­ing for a while, he might need a break dur­ing the game at times, but we were go­ing to call it like he was in there. When he wasn’t in there it was the next guy to go in and take his spot, which was pretty much what we did. We tried not to move too many pieces around after he left the game. It’s a big strate- gic piece to miss be­cause he’s a great player as well emo- tion­ally I think the team was fired up for him to be back. We’ve got­ten used to that.”

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said the in­jury is one Green should be able to make a full re­cov­ery from with­out lin­ger­ing is­sues. The team will know more about his time­line for a re­turn once he is done meet­ing with his spe­cial­ist, but the hope is he can be ready for or­ga­nized team ac­tiv­i­ties (OTAs) in the spring.

It was un­clear Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon whether Green needs surgery. Green was not in the locker room dur­ing the pe­riod it was open to the me­dia Wed­nes­day.

“It’s a mat­ter of A.J. mak­ing a de­ci­sion what’s the best course of ac­tion,” Lewis said.

“I think they feel very con­fi­dent that with his in­jury, al­beit the same in­jury he had a month ago, what­ever they de­cide is the best course of ac­tion, he would be healed 100 per­cent,” he added.

The Bengals’ 2011 firstround draft pick fin­ished his eighth NFL sea­son with 694 yards and six touch­downs on 46 re­cep­tions. He has one year left on his four-year, $60 mil­lion con- tract and said last week he re­mains com­mit­ted to the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Dur­ing an in­ter­view last week, Green said when he and Dal­ton ar­rived to­gether in Cincin­nati, they were able to “turn a lot of things around,” and they still have the op­por­tu­nity to do that with some “more pieces around” them in the fu­ture.

“My goal when I got drafted was to al­ways stay in one place the whole time,” Green said last week. “No mat­ter what the sit­u­a­tion was. I want to win, I want to bring some­thing to this city. I don’t want to be like, ‘Oh, A.J. left be­cause he wasn’t win­ning.’ It’s not about foot- ball, that’s just who I am to stay loyal to who­ever gave me an op­por­tu­nity. It’s been fun. I wouldn’t rather be nowhere else. In tough times that’s why I’m here, try to lead these guys and get this thing back on the road and for the fu­ture. I have one more year on my con­tract and then we’ll see what hap­pens.”

‘I’m just hop­ing for the best for him and his health. Any time you lose an A.J. Green, it takes its toll on the foot­ball team.’ Jeff Driskel Bengals quar­ter­back

Bengals re­ceiver A.J. Green is carted off of the field after he reag­gra­vated a toe in­jury dur­ing the sec­ond quar­ter against the Bron­cos at Paul Brown Sta­dium on Sun­day. Green will miss the re­main­der of the sea­son after be­ing placed on in­jured re­serve.

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