Updated: 4:20 p.m.
Bengals Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green added another line to Wikipedia on Thursday when he was named AFC Offensive Player of the Month. During his busy morning he was also showed a chart that traces how his first 20 NFL games have eclipsed the first 20 games of everyone on his list of five favorite receivers.
"Yeah that surprised me," Green admitted before practice. "Just knowing the careers those guys have had and right now I'm there with them. But have to keep working. Stay healthy and keep working."
His top five are Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald ("Hands and the way he runs routes as a big receiver."), Detroit's Calvin Johnson ("The way he attacks the ball."), Houston's Andre Johnson ("How physical he is."), Hall of Famer Jerry Rice ("The way he runs his routes.") and Atlanta's Roddy White ("How consistent he is at all time.").
After the season's first four games, Green is using every aspect of their games after he finished September as the league's second-most productive receiver with 428 yards on 27 catches for three touchdowns and a 15.9.-yard average. He faces off with NFL leader Brian Hartline of the Dolphins (455) in Sunday's game at Paul Brown Stadium (1 p.m.-ESPN 1530 AM).
Green is the first Bengals AFC Offensive Player of the Month since quarterback Carson Palmer led the Bengals to an undefeated September in 2005.
HALL ENCOURAGED: Cornerback Leon Hall practiced for the first time in limited fashion Wednesday two weeks to the day he injured his hamstring in practice and said Thursday he felt sore but hopeful.
"I'm pretty confident I'll play unless something happens I don't see happening. I expect to play," Hall said. "We'll take the same approach today as we did yesterday. He told me if I felt like I could do more, do more and vice versa."
Hall was out there again Thursday, as were safety Nate Clements (calf) and Dre Kirkpatrick (knee) after they also returned Wednesday. Linebacker Dan Skuta (back) was on the field after sitting out Wednesday and they were all limited while cornerback Jason Allen (quad) worked on the rehab field again.
Everyone else was limited, too, with running back Bernard Scott (ankle) the only one full go. WILL backer Vontaze Burfict (hamstring) surfaced Thursday and was also limited. So were left end Carlos Dunlap (groin), center Jeff Faine (hamstring), and left tackle Andrew Whitworth (knee).
Hall is getting ready for a reunion of sorts with Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle, the Bengals long-time secondary coach in his first season in Miami after 11 highly-regarded seasons in Cincinnati. Coyle not only gained players' respect with his meticulous preparation, but also for his ability to connect with them off the field.
"Those two things put him above," Hall said.
It is a two-way street. Coyle has great admiration for Hall as a person and competitor. They still text and talk, most recently when Hall hurt his hamstring, despite Coyle's wide capacity to bust chops.
Once when Coyle welcomed his players back to an OTA, he presented one of his many slide shows extolling the virtues of working hard in the offseason and snuck in a picture of avid golfer Hall snapped smack in the middle of his follow through on the course to the howling delight of his teammates.
"I think he just cared a lot more than he really needed to. With football stuff obviously he cared, he wanted us to play the right way and do the right thing but on a personal level he cared about you," Hall said. "Never forgot a guy's birthday, literally ever, since I've been here. He's always got a cake, used to always sing Happy Birthday, as dorky as it sounds. But that was a big deal to him.
"He's real smart and he knows how to coach, which is obviously what he needs to do. I love him, yeah."
Last year in Coyle's final season the Bengals secondary had to adjust to losing Hall's corner partner for four seasons, Johnathan Joseph, and while Hall moved sides he also had to deal with covering the uncoverable Green.
"My man Leon wouldn't back down," Coyle said. "A.J. was having a great camp running by everybody and Leon kept going back out wanting to be on his side. Great competitor."
So Hall hasn't been very surprised at Green's success. He literally saw it before anybody else.
"Even if you're covered on him, you have to learn as a DB that you have to go get the ball. That's one of the things he does best; judge the ball in the air and he's able to go get it and come down with it before you even realize it," Hall said. "That's a big help for the DBs here. You would hope that it happens enough in practice that it becomes second nature and you get the ball out during the game."
Hall agrees with Green that Green's biggest improvement has been releasing off the line more smoothly.
"I know going into training camp this year and last year, he has a lot more releases to show us. It used to be fairly simple, as far as his releases are concerned," Hall said. "But now he gives you a little bit of both. He goes in, goes out. He does a lot of that.
"It's all good work. Going against somebody as young as he is obviously, but he's so talented. What better person to cover? You have to embrace it, to be quite honest. You want to cover guys like that. And you want those kinds of guys on your team."
FIRST BLOOD: The Bengals again teamed up with Hoxworth Blood Center of the University of Cincinnati at Paul Brown Stadium on Wednesday to produce Cincinnati's largest blood drive when it registered 866 donors and collected 816 lifesaving blood products.
"We are thrilled with the support that the Bengals organization and fans showed at the blood drive and welcome them to the rank of lifesaver," Hoxworth spokesperson Alecia Lipton said in a news release detailing the 11th Annual Bengals Blood Drive.
Blood donors not only received a limited-edition long-sleeved Bengals T-shirt, but they also had an opportunity to meet and greet head coach Marvin Lewis, and 19 of his players as well as mascot Who Dey.
Those who could not attend the drive can still participate in "Bengals Week" at all Hoxworth Neighborhood Donor Centers. Donate blood at a neighborhood donor center Oct. 4-6 and receive a limited-edition Bengals T-shirt while supplies last.
Donors can visit hoxworth.org or call (513) 451-0910 or (800) 830-1091 to schedule an appointment to donate. Because of the popularity of the T-shirt, Hoxworth recommends appointments, but walk-ins are always accepted.