New Bengals head coach Zac Taylor had yet to meet his best player Tuesday morning, but wide receiver A.J. Green is well acquainted with the offense the Rams used the past two seasons and he can’t wait to use it. Green says it reminds him of the scheme under Jay Gruden, the offensive coordinator during his first three seasons in the league.
“I’ve heard great things,” Green said of Taylor. “The way they run the ball sets up the pass game. I love it. I love the play-action. It’s fun to get back in that kind of offense. I loved playing for Jay. I had my best years with Jay.”
Green has been limited by injuries in three of his last five seasons as he strives to better his career bests of 98 catches for 1,426 yards in 2013, Gruden’s last season before he became Washington’s head coach. Green’s next best year was the season before with 97 catches and 1,350 yards. Now it looks like good health is going to be a match for what he sees as a healthy scheme.
The health front got better for Green this week when he lost the boot that has been on his foot since a December surgery for his big toe. He’s also received good news about elite receivers that have had the same procedure with the same surgeon: 2011 draft mate Julio Jones, 970-catch receiver Brandon Marshall and future of Hall of Fame tight end Antonio Gates. He says the evidence shows he’ll be fine as he heads into his ninth season at age 31.
“(Gates) told me it takes time. Four to five months to get range of motion. He had it in 2008 and no problems,” Green said. “(Marshall) said it’s a long process just because it’s a toe with a bunch of little things, but he’s been fine.”
In his first two seasons off the surgery (2008-09), Gates scored eight TDs each year and in ’09 had his last 1,000-yard season. Green didn’t speak to Jones but he was told Jones had the same surgery after the Falcons lost the Super Bowl and in the two seasons since he hasn’t missed a game. He’s averaged 15.5 yards per catch in those 32 games, right near his career average of 15.4. And last season he had his second best year with 113 catches for 1,677 yards.
Judging by those surgeries, the window of return could guess-estimate Green back on the field in May or June. But the start of training camp looks to be doable.
“I’ll always be fast,” Green said. “It feels great having the boot off. I can finally put my other shoe back on.”