Matchup of the Game


A.J. Green

BENGALS WR A.J. GREEN VS. CARDINALS RCB PATRICK PETERSON

Welcome to every NFL Draftnick's dream. Christmas Eve in Cincinnati has turned into Draft Weekend, where Santa's beard has turned into Mel Kiper's hair and the kings that are bearing gifts are Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden and Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton.

Green, the fourth pick in the draft and the best player in a star-studded first round vs. Peterson, the fifth pick in the draft and the best player in the round if it isn't Green.

Peterson has been more dangerous and effective on punt returns, where he has already scored touchdowns on four outrageously long runs. But at 6-1, 219 pounds he stands up to the 6-4, 207-pound Green like nobody else when it comes to the fearsome jump balls that Green has pulled off on everybody from Pittsburgh to Tennessee to Cleveland to St. Louis.

Who better to break it down than a former long-time Bengal assistant now Peterson's position coach in Arizona, Louie Cioffi?

"I don't know if or how they'll match up. I would think at some point their paths may cross," Cioffi said.

"This is going to be fun. In my mind, this is going to be the first game of many that these two guys will play in what is going to become one of the NFL's marquee matchups for a long time.

"I still follow the Bengals closely and hope they do well. I spent the last 14 years there, so I'm close to a lot of people on the staff and Mike Brown always has been very supportive. But I want them to lose Saturday, of course. I don't want them to do well against us.

"I am excited about their young kids. I like Andy Dalton. He's very composed, he's very smart, and he doesn't beat himself. And I think No. 18 (Green) is something special. When you can run like him and play the ball like that, you know he can play.

"But our guy is a hell of player, too. Pat really works at his game. He's smart, he can run, and he's got tremendous ball skills. You've got those three things and you've got the tools to be great in this league at that position.

"He's a tremendous kid. He reminds me of Leon Hall. He really works at it, he's smart, and he's a good guy, a good guy to have as well as being very talented. He's on my early crew. He's in here early watching film and trying to get better. Like all young guys just coming into the league there are things he has to assimilate in his game to adjust to the pro level and he already has and he'll continue to do so.

"We'll see what happens (if there is) that jump ball. It is a big weapon they both have. A.J. can go up and get it and take it away, and Peterson can jump and defend it.

"(Peterson) being able to work against Larry Fitzgerald every day in practice has been a huge thing for him. No question it helps. Just liked it helped our guys there last year when they went against Chad and T.O.

See what I mean? It should be fun. But hopefully not too fun ... and we can get out of there with a win."

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