Rookie Bengals head coach Zac Taylor is getting more curve balls thrown at him than Mookie Betts and Mike Trout combined during his first training camp and he’s calmly taking two and going to right.
On Tuesday he donned a doctor’s smock to declare franchise wide receiver A.J. Green is expected to miss “some,” regular-season games with torn ligaments in his ankle. He also slipped into a weatherman’s blazer to cancel his first padded practice as a monsoon blew across the Paul Brown Stadium practice fields powered by lightning bolts and refused to peter out before 4:30 p.m.
Like any good weatherman, Taylor said the elements won’t alter his schedule. Like any good doctor, Taylor wouldn’t paint himself into a corner with a prognosis or timetable and kept it open-ended to a few games.
“I hate to put weeks on it. I don’t like to make that projection because everybody heals a little bit differently,” Taylor said. “Hopefully, it’s not more than a couple of games. Unfortunate for him. He’s put a lot in, but as we all know, it could be a lot worse. We’re thankful that it wasn’t a lot worse and he’ll get a chance to still show all the things that he was setting out to do this season. He’s a fighter.”
So here is where the guessing games begin.
What it appears to mean is that the Bengals can carry him on the roster at the final 53-man cut down and deactivate him for the first couple games. Is it one, two or three? If you know, sign up for the nearest carnival. If he struggles through rehab and they think it’s going to take longer, they can keep him on the roster at the final cut down and then the next day put him on injured reserve-recall, yet he couldn’t practice for six weeks or play in a game for eight.
But it doesn’t appear to be that bad. The biggest questions appear to be will the rehab get him back to 100 percent or will it linger all season? And, will he be back in time for the fourth game, which is the Monday game in Pittsburgh Sept. 30?
“I think that they realized it was going to be a little bit longer,” said Taylor of the exams that took him out of the Sept. 6 opener in Seattle. “Thankful that they saw everything that they saw and it’s just going to be a couple of games. It’s good that we got it all taken care of. Now, he’ll be hopefully be ready to go at the beginning half of the season.”
Taylor wouldn’t delve into the procedure Green had on Tuesday, but the weather was easier to call. The Bengals were suited up and ready to go and had just started individual drills when lightning flashed and Taylor gave the order to head across the street to the locker room. They went through a walk-though in the gym with the hope the weather would break by 4:30 p.m., so they could get in a good 90 minutes on the PBS game field. But Taylor had to make another call as 5 p.m. neared.
The Bengals didn’t have much of a practice on Monday with Taylor declaring a maintenance day after a session characterized as “a jog-through.” Then on Tuesday they did even less, but Taylor’s not worried because it’s early enough in camp.
“What's the right stage that you lose a practice and you're OK with it? I don't know that there is one,” Taylor said. “We were all excited because we were in pads today. Everyone was fired up. So I was giving it every minute we could. We're still under radar until 5:11. We're not clear. Just made the decision. This could go on all night.”
Taylor was looking at two straight days in pads after that Monday Maintain Day. But he says he won’t replace a maintenance day with a padded day. He didn’t rule out adding a padded practice later in camp.
“Fortunately we don't play a game until Aug. 10,” Taylor said. “We know we need every practice we can get. But there's probably worse things than losing the fourth day of practice. We'll restructure our practices a little bit in terms of what we're going to install and make sure we get everything done and we don't missing anything. It doesn't change the days we're going to practice. We still have the same plan going forward.”
Which means pads on Wednesday, off day Thursday and another practice Friday.
Check out the best photos from training camp on July 30, 2019, fueled by Gatorade. Inclement weather, however, forced the team to cut short the outdoor practice.
PLAY OF THE DAY: HC Zac Taylor
When lightning flashed in the distance roughly five minutes before practice began on the PBS practice fields, Taylor didn’t check his watch for the radar or with Bengals director of operations Jeff Brickner. He promptly ordered everyone back to the stadium and nobody got wet before the torrent hit.
PLAYER OF THE DAY: Mother Nature
Mother Nature pulled rank with some fireworks and a ground and pound rain.
“It looks like there’s more weather coming our way, so we’re going to end up not practicing outside today and just doing a walkthrough inside,” Taylor said as his 5:11 p.m. window closed. “It’s unfortunate because this was the first day in pads and we were all very excited about it. Today’s just going to have be walkthrough inside. Apologize to the fans that were out there today that tried to stick it through, but that’s just the way it goes sometimes.”
QUOTE OF THE DAY: Taylor on learning to wear the varied hats of a head coach as he played meteorologist and a doctor when he met the media Tuesday during a topsy-turvy first week of camp:
“It's the best. But you know, really this situation right here, how our players respond to it, they're unbelievable. We just come together as a team when practice is canceled, when guys hurt. It's all about how we respond going forward. This is just the beginning. It's just Day 4 of camp. I'm sure more things will be thrown our way and we're excited to see what those things are.”