Browns coach Mike Pettine ruled out cornerback Joe Haden with a concussion for Thursday's game at Paul Brown Stadium (8:25 p.m.-NFL Network) and that should give Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green more room.
Green and Haden go all the way back to Georgia-Florida and it's been tough sledding at times for Green. In the one Cleveland-Cincinnati game Haden has missed since Green came into the NFL, Green had seven catches for 58 yards a TD in a 34-27 PBS victory in 2012. Only two of his career
22 100-yard games have come against the Browns and in five of the games he's had less than 59 yards. His career line of 474 yards and four TDs against Cleveland is pretty good, but it's Green's lowest numbers against divisional foes.
But Green is also having a terrific year, on pace for a career-high 105 catches and a Bengals-record 1,483 yards. . . .
Yes, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton knows that the Browns game on Thursday night is one year to almost the day of his 2.0 passer rating in the Thursday night 24-3 loss to Cleveland on this very PBS field.
"Obviously, it wasn't my best game," Dalton deadpanned Monday as the assembled media in his weekly session laughed. "But I put it behind me. I think it was a one-time thing. Don't let any of that get into your head. We're in a much better place than we were last year . . .It's going to be talked about because it was a Thursday night game, it was against Cleveland. But I'm a lot better this year than I was last year." . . .
Even though it is the most banged up they've been this season, the Bengals still have the upper hand over the injury report of their opponent in the run up to Thursday's game. Only middle linebacker Rey Maualuga (calf) and right tackle Andre Smith (concussion) were listed as didn't practice and left end Carlos Dunlap (shoulder) was limited. In truth everyone was limited because the day after a game there is usually only a walk-through.
With Smith in the concussion protocol, he'll most likely be out. Pettine not only has Haden with a concussion, but starting safety Donte Whitner, starting wide receiver Brian Hartline and slot receiver Andrew Hawkins listed as DNPs Monday with concussions. Since there are mandated steps in coming back from concussion protocol, there doesn't appear to be enough time for all them to get back.
Also DNP was Browns starting quarterback Josh McCown, saddled with a throwing shoulder and ribs injury. Backup Johnny Manziel (throwing elbow) went full. . . .
Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas, who is friendly with Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth has played for five head coaches and twice as many quarterbacks since he arrived in Cleveland as a top five pick in the 2007 draft. So it was interesting that he mentioned the Bengals' stability when asked if he was surprised Cincy took two tackles with their first two picks in the last draft.
"I was surprised, but I'm sure not as surprised as Andrew was. He's playing as well as anybody and they draft two tackles," Thomas said with a laugh, but he also praised Bengals ownership.
"I think Mike Brown has the right mentality as an owner. He's in it for the long haul," Thomas said. "He's just got that mentality they're going to draft good players, they don't care what anybody else thinks. They're going to draft the best players that they have on their board and they're going to develop them because they know there's going to be a lot of stability there. Those guys may not play for a few years, but when they do play they're going to have a number of years under their belts and they're going to be a heck of lot better than when they were rookies." . . .