On the first day of training camp for the Cincinnati Bengals, star receiver A.J. Green went down with an apparent left foot injury. Green had to be carted off the field, and while doing so, threw his mouthpiece in frustration. No one knows the body of an athlete more than the athlete themselves. The emotion displayed during an injury is an early sign that the severity is more than team officials initially believed. It was officially reported that Green will miss 6-8 weeks with torn ligaments in his left ankle. At the earliest, Green will be able to return in Week 2 of the regular season.
The 2019 NFL season is a significant one for the All-Pro receiver. Green is a 31-year old entering a contract season. The NFL is notorious for the low average of years a player participates in the league. Injuries are evident during every second of action. Green missed only four games in the first five seasons of his career. However, he has missed 13 games in the past three seasons. The years in the NFL are starting to take a toll on his body.
Multiple team officials and Bengals’ players are blaming the turf of the practice field for the injury to Green. As part of the NFL’s 100th anniversary celebration, the Bengals were practicing at Welcome Stadium, near the site of the first NFL game at Triangle Park in Dayton.
“The turf was terrible. I couldn’t run any routes out there. I’m falling all over the ground. It was bad. It was rocks, pebbles out there. Man, it was somewhere we shouldn’t have been playing,” said fellow receiver Tyler Boyd. “I’m not trying to make excuses, but it is what it is.”
With the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens losing key pieces of their team, the Bengals are in a division with no clear winner in sight. Yes, the Cleveland Browns have arguably the most talented roster in the league. But if those pieces don’t have chemistry together, then the Browns are in for a rude awakening. One would think the Bengals would be more protective of their veteran Pro Bowl players.
Even if the Bengals have no intentions of resigning Green, keeping him healthy and using him as trade bait is the next logical move. Teams nowadays are more reluctant to trade multiple draft picks, including first-round picks. Desperate teams who are serious contenders would trade multiple assets for the services of a consistent receiver. Last season was the first season in which Green did not have 1,000 yards receiving, likely due to injuries sidelining him for seven games.