The Indianapolis Colts defense has to be on their toes, as it was announced today that Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green returned to practice today. The Bengals 4th-year wideout still has to pass the NFL’s concussion protocol, but was able to practice Thursday on a limited basis. Green participated in warm-ups and the Bengals’ offensive installation, and it’s starting to look like he’ll be able to go on Sunday.
Dec 28, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers free safety Mike Mitchell (23) hits Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green (18) causing Green to fumble during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. The Steelers won 27-17. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Of course, Green did not play in the two teams’ Week 7 regular season matchup due to a toe injury. However, he’s not only the Bengals’ best receiver, but also one of the top wideouts in the NFL when healthy. Green has 69 receptions for 1,041 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns on the season despite only playing in 13 games because of injury.
In last weekend’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Green had 8 receptions for 82 receiving yards before he suffered a concussion and had to leave the game. Green took a big hit in the helmet from Steelers’ safety Mike Mitchell late in the 4th quarter and had to be helped off the field with concussion-like symptoms.
In their Week 7 win, the Colts were able to force the Bengals receivers to take underneath passes en route to a 27-0 defensive shutout. If Green returns; however, he provides Bengals’ quarterback Andy Dalton with a dynamic wide receiver, who is a tremendous down the field threat. The Colts secondary will have to respect Green’s ability to stretch the field and adjust accordingly.
However, Green can expect to see a generous helping of Colts shutdown cornerback Vontae Davis if he plays on Sunday. It will be a terrific player matchup to watch, as both are truly each elite players at their respective positions.
With potentially both A.J. Green and rookie running back Jeremy Hill having assumed larger offensive roles, the Bengals offense will be much more potent than the lineup that the Colts previously saw in Week 7. The Colts’ defense will have to tailor their gameplan a bit.
Dec 8, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Indianapolis Colts strong safety Antoine Bethea (41) tackles Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green (18) during the first quarter of the game at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports