Von Miller has been watching A.J. Green do plenty of this against Denver.
_Go back to another September game five years and a week ago between the Bengals and Broncos. This one in Denver on Sept. 18, 2011, the first meeting of that star-studded rookie class that would help lift both franchises into a battle for AFC supremacy in the middle of the decade.
In the second game of the season, the Bengals rookie tandem of quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green hooked up for the first of their 41 touchdowns on Green, the draft's fourth pick, and his spectacular tight-rope job in the end zone as the Bengals crawled to within 24-22 with 3:09 left in the game.
They had the ball on the Denver 36 on fourth-and-one when Dalton tried a naked bootleg. Far from fooled, Denver linebacker Von Miller, the draft's second pick, blew it up and forced Dalton to throw an incompletion and stop the Bengals' best bid.
"I have huge respect for all those guys over there," Miller said Wednesday in a conference call to the Cincinnati media. "Me and (Carlos) Dunlap and me and (Dre) Kirkpatrick are pretty good friends as well … I have a whole lot of respect for Andrew Whitworth. He's been the NFLPA rep for a long time. I have respect for him. I know him off the field. He's a great guy."
Since then the Broncos and Bengals have played three more times as the stakes got higher and higher. In 2014 the Bengals needed a win over a 12-win Denver team in the next to last game of the season on Monday Night Football at Paul Brown Stadium to make the postseason or else go to Pittsburgh to get it. They got it on Kirkpatrick s pick-six of Peyton Manning to protect a slim fourth-quarter lead.
Then last year they met in another Monday Nighter in the next-to-last week of the season, this one at Mile High with Andy Dalton playing for the injured Dalton. But by then both teams had made the postseason and they were playing for what turned out to be the AFC's top seed. Denver roared back from a 14-0 deficit to win in overtime on the way to its Super Bowl title.
Miller has a healthy awareness of Dalton and Green and knows it's going to be different Sunday at PBS (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12) than last year. Even though Dalton missed the game last season and in 2014 Green hurt his shoulder so early against the Broncos he didn't have a catch, the last game he was blanked.
"It's just much different when they've got Andy Dalton in there. McCarron, he's great, he's a great quarterback, but Andy Dalton he's their guy," Miller said. "It's just a different team when Andy's out there. He has full hold of the offense. He's able to make all the throws. He's able to run the ball. He has full control of the play. He's just a savvy pro. He's been there six years and when Andy's in there it's just a different team. They got No. 14 back this year and their passing is looking explosive. They really haven't had to the run ball too much, because the passing game has been on fire."
It turns out that the game five years ago set an AFC trend. Miller is now the most feared defender in the game and the defending Super Bowl MVP while Dalton and Green are gearing up for a sixth straight post-season run. Dalton leads the NFL in passing yards and Green is third in receiving yards.
"Dalton and Green connection is up there with the elite quarterbacks," Miller said. "It's right up there with Antonio Brown and Roethlisberger and its right up there with Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson. They just have an incredible chemistry and you can really see their teammates feed off that. They have a lot of talent. They have two good running backs and a solid offensive line."
_Sunday's game is a sell out and the Thursday night game against the Dolphins four days later on Sept. 29 is close with a couple of thousand tickets left. Tickets for the Miami game, featuring the Bengals in their Color Rush jerseys in an homage to the Cincinnati Zoo tigers, can be purchased by phone through the Bengals Ticket Hotline at (866) 621-TDTD (8383) or online atwww.Bengals.com/tickets.
_It's only his third NFL start, but already right tackle Cedric Ogbuehi faces what will be the biggest challenge of the first season of his career as a starter. But at least he knows him.
Miller, the Broncos sackmaster who has wrecked everything from the Panthers in the last Super Bowl to the Colts in the last moments last week, took Ogbuehi under his wing in his final year at Texas A&M.
No doubt a chicken wing.
"I taught him a few tricks of the trade," said Miller, who regaled the conference call with the Cincinnati media about his hobby of naming his chickens after teammates. "I hope he forgot some of them.
"He's like my little brother,' Miller said. "I called it that he would end up going to Cincinnati."
Ogbuehi hopes this meeting will turn out better than the few he had against Miller on the A&M scout team as a freshman.
"I was 18. A kid. And he was about to be a top five pick," Ogbuehi said. "It didn't turn out too good then."
_Wide receiver A.J. Green missed practice Wednesday as he and wife Miranda awaited the birth of their son. Easton Ace Green arrived later in the day. Backup right tackle Eric Winston (back) and tight end C.J. Uzomah (ribs) were also out. Left tackle Andrew Whitworth had a veteran's day.
Quarterback Andy Dalton (hip) went full. Joining Eifert on the limited list were cornerbacks Dre Kirkpatrick and Darqueze Dennard (both hamstrings), wide receiver James Wright (knee), and defensive tackle Pat Sims (heel). Dalton has been getting treatment, but he's fine and not expected to make the status list on Friday.