A.J. Green is looking foward to his matchup with Darrelle Revis, a duel of 12 Pro Bowls.
It doesn't take a gambler, or even a rocket scientist, to figure out the Bengals' opener Sunday (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12) in New York against the Jets.
The Bengals are going to have tough sledding at MetLife Stadium trying to run the ball against the Jets' second-ranked rush defense. And so all eyes are on A.J. Green, the five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver, and his expected matchup with seven-time Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis.
"Everything. He does everything well,' Green said after practice Thursday. "Been around the league a long time. He's seen a lot."
You can start saying that about Green, too, as he heads into a sixth season he can join Randy Moss as the only receiver ever to have 1,000-yard seasons in his first six years.
But with Green the only wide receiver back from last season's Opening Day and Pro Bowl tight end Tyler Eifert shelved with an ankle injury, the strategy looks simple. With the running game clogged and Green occupied with Revis, who is quarterback Andy Dalton going to find?
We'll see, man. It's the first game," said Green, when asked if Revis is going to shadow him. "The first game is always like the feel-out game. A lot of teams copycat after that. So we'll see."
Revis followed him around the last time they met in 2014 in New England, when Green was coming off a foot injury. While the Patriots won a rout, Green found a way to catch five balls for 81 yards and a touchdown.
But clearly things weren't well because a few days later his big toe problem flared again and he missed the next three games. Now Green is healthy and he says so is Revis at age 31.
"No, I don't believe all that," Green said of the Revis-has-lost-a-step murmurings. "They said Tom Brady lost a step last year, too, and you saw what happened with that. They said LeBron lost a step last year. You can't read into that stuff.
"It's not about him running so fast, it's his technique. You're not going to run past him."
Green did in his second game as a pro in the preseason and it stunned him. The Green-Dalton connection never got off the ground in the opener in Detroit and the next week Green found himself going against Revis.
"I remember I was so freaking nervous going up against Darrelle as a rookie," Green said. "I just ran a slant and made him slip. And I didn't even catch the ball. I dropped it! I don't even remember what happened, I just dropped the ball. I was very surprised. It was fun, though. It was definitely an eye opener. My eyes were so wide out there, my first game, going against one of the best cornerbacks that ever played.
"It was a little boost to my confidence at one point because, coming off that Lions game, where we got killed, I was feeling pretty low on myself. It was fun though, it was definitely fun."
Still, if Green is able to get his catches Sunday, will anybody else? Wide receivers coach James Urban says it's pretty cut-and-dried. The Bengals are going to get one-on-one opportunities against an aggressive Jets defense. Can vet wideout Brandon LaFell, in his first game with Dalton, beat it? Can rookie wideout Tyler Boyd, in his first NFL game, separate in the slot from savvy vet Buster Skrine? Can Ken Zampese, in his first game as an NFL coordinator, scheme open a new cast?
"Zamp has a great game plan," Green said. "We've got a lot of guys that can make a play. … We've always had a good running game, Tyler, Brandon LaFell; I think we'll be fine."
Here's how young Green's complementary receivers are. Boyd, who grew up an hour from Revis' exploits in Aliquippa in Clairton, Pa., was inspired by him. Boyd didn't follow Revis to the University of Pittsburgh, but he took note of him.
"It was the kind of thing that if he grew up like that and went there and made it like that, then I have a chance to do that, too," Boyd said. "I think we grew up in the same kind of towns where it wasn't easy. He was a guy I watched. I didn't go to Pitt because he did, but I know what he did there."
Revis is one of those guys that poses a challenge to more than rookies.
"It's always good to go against somebody who's proven himself year in and year out to be one of the best," Green said. "He's definitely going to be a Hall of Famer. It's definitely going to be a challenge for me."
With Calvin Johnson retired, there's a vacuum surrounding the title "Best Receiver in the League." Green is clearly in the conversation with yearly averages of 83 catches, 1,234 yards, and nine touchdowns.
"It's going to be a debate every year who's the best receiver. These days, they're throwing the ball so much, a lot of people are putting up big numbers," Green said. "There's always going to be someone that has bigger numbers than I or whatever the case might be. But I feel like I bring a lot to the table."
Like wins. Since Green and Dalton arrived in 2011, the Bengals have averaged 10 wins a year. They win almost as much on the road (25-15) as they do at home (27-12-1). That's the third best road record in the NFL in the last five years, behind only Denver (27-13) and New England (26-14).
"I think these first six years we've started on the road. So it's nothing new to us," said Green, who thinks the familiarity helps. "I think so. I think you're more focused on the road. It's us against everybody. At some point I think we are (a better road team). Like I said, we're more focused. … If we can take care of the road games, then everything else will come."
SLANTS AND SCREENS: Slot cornerback Darqueze Dennard (ankle) was limited for the second straight day Thursday, the Bengals' last full practice before Sunday's opener.
Backup wide receiver James Wright (knee) didn't practice, but it's believed that he's OK and that a weekly rest is going to part of keeping his surgically-repaired knee healthy. Backup right tackle Eric Winston got a veteran's day off. Rookie wide receiver Cody Core (heat) went limited,
Defensive tackle Pat Sims (Achilles), who missed Wednesday, came back to work full.
Cincinnati Bengals 53 Man Roster