Friday, November 25, 2011
Wake-up call: A.J. Green ready to play
By Jamison Hensley
Every morning, grab a cup of coffee and get your AFC North wake-up call here:
The Bengals' A.J. Green had his first full practice since hyperextending his right knee against the Steelers 11 days ago and should play in the Battle of Ohio on Sunday, according to the team's official website. Green, the NFL's top rookie receiver, missed last Sunday's game at Baltimore.
His only catch in the season opener against the Browns was a 41-yard touchdown that proved to be the game-winning score.
Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton (throwing shoulder) also had a full practice after being limited Wednesday. Dalton and Green have yet to finish a division game together. Dalton was injured in the season opener at Cleveland, and Green was hurt against Pittsburgh and didn't play at Baltimore.
Hensley's slant: This is very encouraging news for the Bengals. Green strikes fear in defenses because of his ability to stretch the field. Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell, both of whom had strong games last Sunday, cause more concern for the Bengals because both run inconsistent routes. There's no debate that Green makes the Bengals' offense more dangerous.
BROWNS: Solid play has moved second-year defensive end Emmanuel Stephens into the starting lineup over Jayme Mitchell. Let's just say Mitchell isn't happy about it. "I don't like it, to be honest," Mitchell told The Cleveland Plain Dealer. "I was told it was lack of production on my part. It could be what it is. It could be some bull [expletive]." Hensley's slant: Mitchell has size and experience. He can also make an impact as a pass-rusher. But he simply hasn't produced. In his past four games, Mitchell has six tackles and no sacks. Once he cools down, maybe he can use this as motivation to get back into the starting lineup.
RAVENS: Take a look at my column on why the Ravens are the AFC's most dangerous home team after Baltimore's 16-6 victory over the 49ers in Thursday night's Harbaugh Bowl.
STEELERS: Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders had full practices Wednesday and Thursday and should play at Kansas City barring any setbacks, according to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair his meniscus earlier this month. "I just go to practice, try and put some WD-40 on my game," Sanders told the paper. "I've been out for two weeks so I'm looking to pick up where I left off." Hensley's slant: With Sanders, the Steelers have the fastest wide-receiver group in the division and possibly the NFL. It's hard to slow down Ben Roethlisberger when Sanders, Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown are consistently getting open. Sanders' return might push Jerricho Cotchery to fourth on the depth chart and Hines Ward to fifth.