The A.J. Green watch has now lurched into the offseason even though there are two games left. He's now looking at his training schedule after coming to terms with not playing this season and being given a clean bill of health for workouts heading into next season. He's simply not at 100 percent and he's not going try it at less than that. He figures he's at 80 percent and will be full go to start a regular off-season regimen.
"I haven't jumped to catch a pass, and nobody has landed on my leg. So, that's the biggest thing for me. Getting the confidence where I can run a route and somebody can jump on my ankle and I'll be fine," Green said before a Wednesday practice he didn't work. "A lot of people don't understand, a lot of it is mental that you have to get over. So, it's a little bit of that. For me to go out there and play freely, I have to be at least 80-some percent to where I know I can go out there and actually be effective."
Green is confident he'll not only be full go next season, but healthy enough to be at an elite level. The off-season updates now move to the contract side of things as he heads into free agency.
He's spent high school, college and the pros in the same category with Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones. Jones recently signed a three-year extension where all but $2 million of the $66 million is guaranteed, according to spotrac.com. Green has missed the last season-and-a-half with injuries, but he believes they were neck-and-neck before that. What that means is anyone's guess. Welcome to the two biggest questions of the offseason. Do they draft LSU quarterback Joe Burrow and do they pay Green in the neighborhood of Jones even though he'll go into the offseason missing 23 of the last 24 games? Green will turn 32 the week training camp starts.
"I understand the value that I bring to this team. And certainly if I was out on that field this year, we wouldn't be 1-and-where-we're-at today, and everybody knows that," Green said. "So I understand my value for the team and I think everybody else understands how valuable I am to this team. But there's a midpoint where we had to meet at. I don't know where that midpoint is and like I said, we'll go from there."
Green has said it before and he said it again Wednesday. He doesn't feel like he has to prove he's healthy before signing a long-term deal.
"That's up to (the Bengals). I don't have to prove anything to anybody," Green said.
He also reiterated what he said Tuesday. He understands if they tender him the one-year franchise tag at $18 million to keep him off the market, he won't like it and won't show up for the off-season workouts whether the quarterback is Burrow or Andy Dalton or anyone else. Training camp? He's not sure.
"I wouldn't sit out (the season), but you have to understand that the franchise tag means you're not committed to the long term so the off-season workouts, training camp, stuff like that would be questionable," Green said. "I don't know about training camp, because I still have to get in football shape. Definitely not OTAs."
That stance has no impact on how much head coach Zac Taylor wants/needs/covets him for next season.
"These are things we'll address in the offseason. I don't question his commitment to anything," Taylor said. "I know what he's about. He's a genuine person. I've enjoyed being around him. It's unfortunate what happened this year. Those are conversations to have in the offseason with him and with our staff."
PRO BOWL CHEERS FOR ATKINS - Geno Atkins reported to work Wednesday morning receiving congratulations for his eighth Pro Bowl, the most by any Bengal but Hall-of-Fame left tackle Anthony Munoz's 11. Since Atkins doesn't speak to the media, it was left to his fellow linemate and 2010 draftmate Carlos Dunlap to expound on what makes Geno Geno.
"He's one of one," Dunlap said. "He's 5-9, squats six-plus, benches four-plus, reps it and he can run a sub 4.8."
Translation: He's built like a fire hydrant, is as strong as new rope and can run down new concepts.
"You don't get that combination of any player in this league next to Aaron Donald," said Dunlap of the other perennial Pro Bowl three technique that was compared to Atkins when he was in the draft. "Complete player. Leverage is a key in this game and he's got that built in leverage."
DUNLAP STILL LEADS IN SACKS - Still, Dunlap has expanded his career sack lead to 3.5 over Atkins (79-75.5), leaving him five shy of the franchise record.
"We're not talking about my personal stats," Dunlap said. "Geno is the man of the day."
HONEY OF A DEAL - The Bengals head to the home of Honey Uninhibited, the Miami restaurant owned by Dunlap, but the club's headquarters is too far away for a Saturday night dinner. But anyone going there Sunday with Bengals gear gets 15 percent off, he declared at his locker before practice.
PRICE MAY START - Billy Price may get a start at right guard after playing left guard all year before he replaced John Miller (concussion) during Sunday's game. Miller didn't work didn't work Wednesday.