Updated: 7:50 p.m.
Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth has gone to the well three times against the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady Patriots and has come out on the short end every game by a combined score of 110-50. But he says this team is better than those 2006, 2007 and 2010 editions with which Brady had his way. And Exhibit A is Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green's admission Wednesday that he has to improve his body language.
"He's a great player. He gets frustrated. He's young," Whitworth said before practice. "He's realizing the way he goes and the way he acts is key for him and the future as a leader for this team. He'll learn that. He'll develop that. It's awesome he's willing to say that. That just gives you an idea of what I'm saying. This team cares. We've got enough guys that it means something to that we're going to be good. We just have to stay together. A.J. cares."
Green cared enough that when bumped into quarterback Andy Dalton in the parking lot Tuesday, he said they chatted for 10 minutes. Asked what they talked about Green said, "Can't talk about it."
One of the things Green worried about is that he showed up Dalton with his visible frustration during Sunday's 17-6 loss in which the pair was totally out of sync.
"You don't want to show up that guy," Green said.
"I sensed it in myself. That's not me. I watch the game film and my arms are flailing and all loose and that's not me. That's not the way I act."
Green said he realizes how much of an impact he has on his teammates. A point hammered home by receivers coach James Urban.
"The cameras are already going to be on me no matter what and my body language when a bad throw … not showing Andy or the offense up. Controlling it better," Green said. "That's the biggest thing that I sat down and thought about. I talked to Coach about keeping my head high. I can't show it getting to me and going out and play. I watched the TV copy. Shows you a little more. It was a little bad. The body language is not me. I would just press, we were so close and needed to make a play."
Green wasn't about to say that Joe Haden, the Browns cornerback that shadowed him all game with his coverage and taunting, got into his head while he caught seven of 15 targets for just 51 yards.
"I think that's the way he plays," Green said. "When he makes a play he is going talk smack. I have to run back to the huddle and get ready for the next play. I don't think he got in my head, I just think it was frustration taking over."
If there's anyone who knows how body language can destroy the mind of a team, it is former Bengals cornerback Artrell Hawkins. He played with Carl Pickens and another wide receiver that there "is no need to drag his name through the mud." Hawkins, a Bengals Radio Network analyst, actually told Green on Tuesday that he thought Green needed to work on the body language.
"Everyone noticed it. And he completely agreed with me right away," Hawkins said. "That's what I expect from A.J. Green. He's the complete opposite of what was here. He's a team player and a team guy. That's the type of thing that doesn't help a team's confidence. If you've got something to say to the man, say it to him or get frustrated in the locker room.
"I can understand the frustration seeping in because of the accuracy, but A.J. understands he can't let that happen."
Hawkins thought Pickens's histrionics late in the 1999 opener in Tennessee when he finally got the ball late in the game hurt that club because head coach Bruce Coslet had to call him out in a meeting with, "I don't show you up, don't show me up." And, ironically, in his first year of retirement in 2007, Hawkins was at Paul Brown Stadium in the Oct. 1 Monday Night game the last time the Patriots were here when Chad Johnson famously showed up quarterback Carson Palmer at the end of the half.
"Everyone saw Chad and Carson. That's the one burned in your image more than anything. Sideline to sideline," Hawkins said. "I don't see that kind of thing happening here."
Wide receivers coach James Urban says he and Green have "an open line of communication," and that the discussion happened naturally.
"He's one of the most self-reflective, self-critical people I've been around. He's ahead of me when I say most things. He's already analyzed it in his mind," said Urban, who says not to be fooled by the strong, silent type.
"He's quiet but not laid back. He wants to be great. He's driven, intense. He's our version of Geno (Atkins, Bengals Pro Bowl defensive tackle). He's just quiet. If he can say it in three words, he says it in one. He wants to win and be great.
"He wants to do his part to help us win games and like I told all the receivers. We're paid to make plays and we didn't make any plays to help us win the game. We're all frustrated. It may have been little more heightened but he wasn't any more ticked than anyone else." BOLEY ARRIVES:Is Michael Boley this year's Chris Crocker?
Like Crocker back in 2008, the Bengals signed Boley off the street in October. Like Crocker back in 2007, Boley played one year for Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer in Atlanta. Like Crocker, Boley plays an interchangeable spot and has rep for knowing the game.
After watching him in his first practice Wednesday, Zimmer could see some similarities.
"Right. He had some good coverage ability. He blitzed OK. We gave him a lot of responsibility back then," Zimmer said. "He's a good athlete and a smart guy. He's been in this system some. We were running a little thin there for a little while so it's good to get another guy in here that kind of will know what to do."
Boley is not Crocker, of course. Crocker was 28 and had been cut by the Dolphins the week before. The 6-3, 230-pound Boley is 31 and hadn't been anywhere since the Giants cut him two days after the Ravens won the Super Bowl.
But he can play both outside backer spots and since the Bengals have lost their best cover backer in Emmanuel Lamur, they've had safety Taylor Mays working in some nickel packages as well as middle linebacker Rey Maualuga in what aren't always ideal situations. Boley had 44 career passes defensed and is coming off a season in New York where he had a career-high three interceptions.
"It shouldn't be too hard," Boley said of picking up the defense. "Some of the terminology and stuff, there's a little carryover. Remembering part of that is helping me a little bit so it shouldn't take me too long.
"Most teams, both outside linebackers are a little different, same in some aspects. It shouldn't be too different."
Boley had his best stat season that one year under Zimmer when he had a career-high three sacks, four forced fumbles, and 93 tackles.
"Just being able to do a lot of different things," Boley said. "Zim does a good job of moving guys around and putting them in positions to make plays."
Boley might be able to impart some wisdom about how the Giants knocked off the Patriots and Tom Brady two Super Bowls ago in Indy. He also can see similarities between the New York defensive line then and the Cincinnati D-line now.
"Get him off his game. Interrupt his timing. Disrupt his receivers and get a good push up front. If you keep guys in his face, kind of muddy up those passing lanes, it'll definitely get him out of his rhythm," Boley said. "We have a great front and to be able to watch this team in the past and see them on film the last couple of years, they're a force up front to be reckoned with."
Boley also played in Cincinnati's 31-13 victory over the Giants at Paul Brown Stadium and had seven tackles in a decent 275-yard effort, but quarterback Andy Dalton threw four touchdown passes for the first time.
"A lot of the quick passing hurt us last year. We couldn't stop it and they kept doing it," Boley said.
The last two years Crocker has been able to come off the street and play right away. Boley says he's not sure if he'll go Sunday.
"My conditioning is what it is. I tell people all the time, nothing gets you in shape for football like playing football," Boley said. "So you can do as many sprints and stuff as you want in the offseason, but until you get on the field, that's the true test of your conditioning."
SLANTS AND SCREENS » This is the third time the Bengals have met the Brady-Bill Belichick Pats in the first week of October and they're going to have to reverse a decade-long trend go get a win. The Patriots are an NFL-best 35-7 in October since 2003, the year Marvin Lewis took over the Bengals. October has been Lewis's worst month by far at 15-24.
» Starting safety Reggie Nelson (hamstring), who missed last week's game, returned to practice Wednesday limited but cornerbacks Leon Hall and Dre Kirkpatrick didn't with their balky hamstrings. Kirkpatrick, who got hurt three games ago against Pittsburgh, was limited last Friday.
Right end Michael Johnson (concussion) didn't work and neither did backup guard-center Mike Pollak (knee). WILL backer Vontaze Burfict (neck) was limited. The Bengals said Johnson came to the coaches after Sunday's game with symptoms and it was then determined he had a concussion.