A.J. Green must be close. Real close. The man who his teammates call "Dream," sounds like he's ready to put our long Bengaldom nightmare to rest.
After Wednesday's practice he treated the media to pure, uncut Adriel Jeremiah Green in what had to be the most freewheeling session of his career. Maybe it was the demotion of his good friend Andy Dalton. Or maybe it was the miserable weather that cut short practice on the Paul Brown Stadium turf. Or maybe it was the prospect of visiting his new house in Atlanta during this bye week.
But it was probably because he knows the ankle that has kept him out all season since he injured it in the first 45 minutes of training camp 64 days ago may finally be ready to return for Nov. 10 at Paul Brown Stadium against the Ravens. After taking a few snaps with the offense for the first time (that included a catch from new starter Ryan Finley), he indicated he has his sights on the Ravens. The plan is to go full go next Wednesday.
"I went out there and practiced on the turf. And you know I hate the turf," said Green and when told that sounded like he really wanted to practice, he said, "Exactly. Everything felt good. Now I'm just getting it out of my mind and understanding that it's fine."
Someone mentioned it was fitting if Green were available for Finley's first NFL start.
"If I was out here for the first beginning of the season, I feel like this season would be different," Green said.
Different enough that Dalton would still have a job.
"I think so. We wouldn't be 0-8. I know that. For a fact. I know that," Green said. "We wouldn't be 0-8. Just know that. You can't help that. Injuries happen, I've been hurt. I've got to focus on me getting healthy and once I get healthy I feel like I can help this team."
Green also opined he wants to sign a multi-year deal with the Bengals, insists he has no idea where the trade stuff came from (start with teams that were miffed they couldn't get a first-rounder for him and then go down your roster of agents) and is glad he didn't get dealt.
"I'm not going to be a guy, saying, 'Oh, I want to be traded,' and go through a situation where I'm not happy," Green said. "I'm generally happy here. We might not win but I'm happy here. End of the day it's a business and I know my worth. I know what I bring to this team. So, we will what happens. "
He says when he comes back he'll be 100 percent and he says if anyone has concerns about his injury history (he's got one catch in the last 16 games), don't sign him. He says, don't worry, he'll give you the numbers.
Even with a rookie quarterback?
"I can do it with anybody," he said.
It sounds like No. 18 is ready for '19.