Two great wide receivers are in the house for Sunday's game (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Local 12) at Paul Brown Stadium when the Bengals play the Steelers. Unfortunately, neither are playing. Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green (ankle) has yet to play this season and James Lofton is working the game as the CBS-TV analyst.
But the two had a lot to talk about as they watched the Bengals practice Friday on the PBS field. The 6-3, 192-pound Lofton, a Pro Football Hall-of-Famer who retired as the game's all-time leader with 14,004 yards after the 1993 season, calls the 6-4, 210-pound Green his modern-day match. You can go right down to their cool, classy and understated demeanor on and off the field.
"He's a little taller, a little heavier, but similar in what we were asked to do in a game," Lofton said. "Real good outside the numbers, but not afraid to go inside the numbers."
Lofton, the first man in history to score a touchdown in the '70s, '80s and '90s, caught 75 during 16 seasons he stunned secondarys on 18.3 yards per catch. He thinks Green has better hands.
"I told him it's the gloves," Lofton said. "I was pretty fast, but he's awfully quick. I think we're pretty similar in the way we run routes. I just like the way he plays. When somebody asks me, I always say he's one of my top five."
Green says it's a compliment because he's done the research. After meeting Lofton during his third season, he looked him up.
"Great numbers. I'm trying to get my numbers like that," Green said.
Even though Green has missed his last 14 games and 17 of the last 18 with torn ankle ligaments this season and a big toe injury last season, Lofton fully expects Green to join him in the Hall of Fame. That's good news for Green because Lofton, 63, along with Dan Fouts, is one of the two former players who are Hall of Fame selectors. He also thinks Green is going to do it as a Bengal.
"I still think he knows the road to get there," Lofton said of the Canton, Ohio shrine. "I think he's got many more years to play and I think he's looking forward to playing many more years."
Green has said starting in 2020 he plans to play five more years. Say he misses a handful of games and he plays 75 of the projected 80 games. If he maintains his current averages of 80.2 yards per game on 5.4 catches per game, he'll end up with 14, 922 yards on 1,007 catches and 106 touchdowns at 14.8 yards per. Hard to keep out a guy that has seven Pro Bowls and 15,000 yards.
They also talked Friday about foot injuries, which Lofton had after he played, and how baffling it is because it takes a while for it to heal after the surgery.
"This has always been a team that drafted and stayed with their players. It's been a real family organization," Lofton said. "And (Green) feels like that. He's expressed that to me down through the years and currently so. He's not looking to use (the injury) as a maneuver or anything like that."
That's how Lofton sees it. Green stays as a Bengal. But who was better?
"He's better now," said Lofton with a smile. "I'm a little older."
GREEN UPDATE: Well, it's certainly clear now that Green's ankle was very badly damaged in that first practice of training camp. But head coach Zac Taylor isn't gassing his season just yet. Same stuff. Week to week.
"Because if it's Monday, he might feel like he's ready to start practicing again. So I don't want to make any predictions for the rest of the year," said Taylor after Friday's practice, citing that Green can't really cut. "Just planting off of it right now, I think is a little uncomfortable for him. We'll get to that point where he feels comfortable and he'll be ready to go."
Remember the old breathless 6-8 weeks the Twitter World doused us with in the hours after the injury?
"I think everybody was hopeful that it wouldn't be so long," Taylor said. "But it's an injury, they're all a little bit different. His is a little bit different. It's just the time it's taken to heal, and we want him back full speed. We don't want push anybody along that's not ready to go. We just want to make sure he's ready to play full speed and healthy and give his best effort."
GLENN A GO: Cordy Glenn has gone from the inactive list to the suspended list back to the inactive list this season. On Friday Taylor made him the starting left tackle, their first left tackle this season who has actually played more than their first few games there, like John Jerry and Andre Smith did when they split the first ten games there this season. Glenn's first start of the season is the 91st of his career in his 92nd game. He chose not to talk to the media the last two days, but Taylor said he's ready.
"He has been good. It looks like he's in good shape," Taylor said. "He's been dialed in and focused and understands the things that we want him to do. He's had a good week of practice."
That left side of the line may look a little weird. Billy Price (back), who has started the last five games at left guard, went limited the first two days of practice this week before going full Friday. Alex Redmond, who has missed the last two games with knee and ankle issues, got the snaps Price didn't get and now they're in there together with Taylor saying he's not sure who gets the start but both are healthy. Redmond hasn't played left guard since the last two games of the 2017 season, when he split time with Christian Westerman.
TATE MAY GO: Bengals wide receiver Auden Tate, who left the field in Oakland on a board and flew home wearing hospital scrubs and a neck brace, was back on the field Friday for the first time in a limited role. But Taylor said he can play if he passes Saturday's work
"He's making good progress," Taylor said. "He got through all of the steps during this three-day process. He was able to do a little bit and is making good progress there."
Rookie wide receiver Stanley Morgan, who walked off the field Sunday, has yet to practice this week because of an illness, is questionable, as is Tate.
NO. 1: Taylor has indeed thought about how good his first win as a head coach is going to feel, whenever it is. But there's nothing planned. No Gatorade shower. ("We just talk about what are the things we have to do to win this game. That's it.") No bottle of wine or champagne that's been put away until the moment. ("No. Trust me, I'm the last person, I drink so little.")
"You think about what it would feel like to win. You think about that. You think about that every week," Taylor said. "Not relief. You feel for the staff and the players that put in all the work. 'Paid off' isn't the word I want to use. Just all the things you fight for, you get that moment of post-game (celebration). We haven't gotten that feel yet. Yeah, I talk about that often and very much look forward to what that will feel like post-game here at home, especially."