Long-time offensive captain A.J. Green and members of the Bengals' locker-room leadership committee met a few times Thursday morning with head coach Zac Taylor before it decided to take the field for a morning walkthrough and an afternoon practice.
Saying that Taylor is on board with the players, Green also indicated all players plan to meet at some point as the leadership committee meets again Friday to have more discussions about the social justice issues spawned by violent summer in several communities across the country.
Green said the Bengals opted to practice Thursday instead of joining several other teams that didn't because they wanted to get all the players involved in any kind of a decision on next steps.
But he said the NBA and NFL teams that shut down practice "showed leadership."
"I don't have a problem with it," Green said of deciding to practice. "But at the same time, I think we as a team need to get together and have a bigger discussion (about) what's going on in this world, how we can make a change and I think it starts from the top."
Green said the players are looking for support from ownership in their effort to bring "awareness to what's going on outside the locker room." Back in June the Bengals put together a Positive Community Impact Committee consisting of ownership, players and administrative personnel. It's designed to work on social justice issues raised by the players, ranging from programs promoting diversity to the cultivation of minority-owned businesses.
"It's just starting from the top, having the uncomfortable conversation with the owners, the general managers and making everyone feel comfortable," Green said. "I think a lot of players are scared to talk because a lot of people aren't financially stable to where they can make comments on how they feel about things and not feel like they will get cut or something like that. I think it starts from the top and that will create an environment where these guys are comfortable voicing their opinion and not feel like, 'This could cost me my job because I have a family to feed.'"
Green said he had "great" talks with Taylor on Thursday.
"I feel like he's on board with whatever the players want to do at this point," Green said. "Like I said, it's bigger than just sports right now. You see what's going on around the world with different other sports, down to tennis. The woman, she's ranked No. 1 in the world, she just postponed her match. When you see players like that postponing their own match, it speaks volume with LeBron, the Clippers, what they're doing."
GREEN'S HEALTH: Green says his hamstring is nearly 100 percent after he returned to the field Wednesday for individual drills and his first work on the field in nine days. He tweaked it the day before the Bengals put on pads last week when he had a slight collision, but he says he would have finished the day if it was a game. And he's keeping in mind that he hasn't finished a game in nearly two years, Oct. 28, 2018.
"I've just got to be smart. I've got to get my legs back under me," Green said. "I haven't played football in a while. For me, it's just working my way back up to the full speed that I was before I got hurt. It's a little frustrating, but at this point it could be worse. I'll just go about my business, keep working, and I'll be ready. The biggest thing is getting ready for the first game, and that's what my eyes' are on right now."
Green said he hopes to work in one of the two remaining scrimmages, this Sunday or the one on Sept. 3.
"It depends on how I feel. I've played enough football to understand how my body feels and how to get ready for a season," Green said. "I think we've got this scrimmage and another scrimmage coming up. So I definitely am going to play in one of them."
GREEN ON BURROW: Green was way in on rookie quarterback Joe Burrow back in May, long before he caught a ball from him. Now that he has caught several, well, you can imagine. Plus, Green appreciates his public support of his African-American teammates and it's believed even though Burrow is a rookie he is on the leadership committee.
"He's going to be great for the next 15 years," Green said. "With him, man, it's just getting that rhythm. We're always talking after, even before I got hurt, I need to put the ball there or how do you like this ball or how do you like this route. So it's always constant communication. Joe is going to be a great one."