A.J. Green walks off the field with trainer Paul Sparling after hurting his knee in Thursday's practice.
Updated: 9:30 p.m.
The Bengals looked like they dodged a mushroom cloud late in Thursday's first practice of training camp when their best player, two-time Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green, took a hard spill on his left knee chasing a deep ball out of bounds with cornerback Terence Newman.
The play was eerily similar to the one that put him out of the only NFL game he's missed in his first two seasons and if the comparison holds up he'll miss about 10 days with what could be a hyperextended knee. In his rookie year Green wrenched his knee making a leaping touchdown catch against the Steelers, had to leave the game and missed the next week in Baltimore.
He certainly looked like he couldn't go for at least a couple of days when he appeared Thursday night at the Bengals Pep Rally. After being introduced, Green left the stage with a slight limp accompanied by rehab chief Nick Cosgray.
Green was on the ground for about three minutes Thursday before trainer Paul Sparling and one of the team doctors, Kevin Reilly, helped him to his feet. He gingerly walked off the field without a limp and all indications were that Green was at his locker after practice.
"I think he's fine," said head coach Marvin Lewis. "They went inside just to take a look, but I think he's fine."
More evidence that Green was OK came as Lewis offered some humor.
"It is one way for me to get him out of practice," Lewis said. "I'd rather pull him out than see him go through a dramatic fall."
The Hard Knocks camera crews, sensing an Emmy moment, converged on the spot like ambulances.
"They were after it, weren't they?" Lewis asked.
Green, an indestructible sort who played more than 1,000 snaps last season, went in the air for Andy Dalton's deep ball and came down hard out of bounds as Newman went flying past him down a slight hill into a group of rocks that is several yards from the sidelines.
The Bengals have opted to switch the main practice field from last training camp to the one they'll use for the regular season, so camp's main practice field is the one adjacent to the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge. It is a little tight down near one end zone, and Green brushed up against the tree in a previous period chasing a long ball.
But Lewis said the play had nothing to do with the field.
"We practice here for a year on that field for an entire season. It's got nothing to do with the side of the practice field. It's the way he ended up coming down awkwardly," Lewis said. "We rather they all stay on their feet. I'd rather have an incomplete pass.
"The main thing is to stay on our feet. He just twisted himself. It was one of A.J.'s contortions. You guys were probably texting."
SMITH HOPING SUNDAY: Right tackle Andre Smith looks in fighting game shape (which would be about 340 pounds) and says he's in much better shape than he was at the end of last year. Shelved by a calf injury, he hopes to be back to practice Sunday, the first day of pads.
"I'm miles and miles past that," Smith said of the shape he's in compared to January.
He also says the personal problems that led to him not showing up for the entire spring are behind him and that his absence had nothing to do with the three-year, $18 million deal he signed draft weekend.
"I just worked hard. I didn't want to come back and disappoint my teammates and ownership," Smith said. "My thing was to come back in shape and be ready to go. I had a little hiccup right before I came back. It's something I'm able to move past and hopefully there are no more bumps in the road."
Smith says he'll have no problem getting back into the swing.
"I don't have anything to worry about. I pick it up really fast and Paul's a great teacher," he said of offensive line coach Paul Alexander.
PLAYER OF THE DAY: Had to be cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick. The 2012 first-rounder who disappeared last year and this spring with an injured knee, looked like he's never looked as a Bengal.
Healthy and spry.
Working as the third-team corner, Kirkpatrick ran step for step down the sideline on a go pattern against Green and leaned back to nearly pick it off on a play that had Lewis raving. Lewis has been impressed with how Kirkpatrick immersed himself into the play on the field even though he wasn't on the field. He particularly liked how Kirkpatrick worked with transplanted rookie running back Onterio McCalebb on his start and stance.
"That guy last year would have run smack into A.J.," Lewis said of the Green play. "But he got in position to get to A.J. and cut him off and he turned and played the football. It will come back very quickly. He's worked real hard and been diligent."
PLAY OF THE DAY: Wide receiver Marvin Jones one-handed stab.
Working one-on-one against cornerback Adam Jones down the seam, Jones had good coverage and Dalton threw the ball to the outside as Jones was turned inside. As Jones wheeled his body around, he stuck out a hand, plucked it, and continued to run after reversing his route.
SECOND TAKE: Lewis thought Dalton threw the ball pretty well. He may not have completed many long ones, but he was razor sharp on the intermediate routes. His first pass was a beauty, a floater to rookie tight end Tyler Eifert running into a zone on a corner route behind SAM backer James Harrison. He also hit wide receiver Mohamed Sanu a couple of times on quick timing routes.
The best thing may have been that the passing game hit the ground running.
"We're down the road a little bit in the process, which is good," Lewis said. "I think conceptually the guys understand that. Conceptually we've got some good pieces that fit well. I think the receivers out here did a great job. I think Marvin and Mo are going to be everything we expect them to be."
QUOTE OF THE DAY: Andre Smith: "I had some personal stuff I had to take care of. I appreciate your all's concern."