Thursday, October 3, 2013
Look for a different A.J. Green on Sunday
By Coley Harvey
CINCINNATI -- When Cincinnati Bengals receiver A.J. Green sat down and watched a replay of the television feed from Sunday's Bengals-Browns game, he was surprised by what he was seeing.
Most times CBS' cameras panned to Cincinnati's sideline, a helmet-less player wearing the Bengals' white No. 18 jersey was caught scowling and frowning, visibly frustrated by the lackluster display he and the rest of his offense was showcasing.
The player was wearing Green's jersey, but Green didn't know who he was. He didn't recognize him.
"That's not me," Green said earlier this week. "That's not the way I act."
"That body language is not me," A.J. Green said of his appearance last Sunday against the Browns.
But the all-seeing eye doesn't lie. As much as he wished he could deny it, the third-year player out of Georgia recognized that he couldn't.
"I watch the game film and my arms are flailing and all loose," he said, shaking his head. "It was a little bad. That body language is not me."
Green realized he had to make a change. Come this Sunday, when the New England Patriots visit Cincinnati, you'll find the young wideout doing his best to maintain his poise and professionalism, while also doing a better job of appearing to be a team player. It won't just be an act, though, he contends. He will be sincerely showing the NFL world how close he and his teammates, particularly embattled quarterback Andy Dalton, are.
"You don't want to show up that guy," Green said.
The pair contended after Sunday's game and throughout this week that they still are on the same page. For whatever reason, their communication was a little off against the Browns. When Green thought Dalton wanted him to go one way, the quarterback actually went another. When Dalton thought Green was trying to go in a particular direction, Green went the opposite way.
They just weren't clicking, and Green's actions, whether he knew it at the time or not, were showing that.
After seeing his demonstrative actions on the game film, Green decided it best to approach Dalton and have a heart-to-heart. The pass-catcher and the passer spoke several for minutes Tuesday afternoon in the players' parking lot underneath Paul Brown Stadium. While Green wouldn't divulge the nature of their conversation, he contended it was positive.
"We can't get frustrated out there," Green said. "We have to continue to work and don't point fingers. Everyone [on offense] had a hand in it."
The Bengals amassed just 266 yards of offense in the 17-6 loss, 203 of them in the air. Of those, Green had 51 from seven catches. As many balls as he caught, though, it was the ones he didn't catch that caused the most concern. He was targeted 15 times. The balls he didn't catch were thrown over his head, at his feet or in locations upon which he and Dalton just couldn't agree.
"We're not clicking on the deep balls, but they're going to come," Green said. "Just like a basketball player having a bad shooting night, you just keep shooting."
Part of the issue with getting the ball to Green was the intense coverage that Cleveland cornerback Joe Haden played on him. The young player was with Green virtually stride-for-stride whenever they were matched up. Even on some of the balls the Bengals receiver did catch, Haden often was there to push him out of bounds or tackle him before he could turn upfield.
Haden's tight play and trash talk helped fuel the frustrations that boiled over on big screens across the country.
"There are going to be games like that where the game plan is to put you away," Green said. "I have to be able to make plays when the ball is thrown to my side. Line up in the slot more. The routes I ran were not the crispest and I have to work on that, especially in the slot, running the seams."
Green knows that's not all he needs to work on ahead of this weekend's contest. With another challenge against a solid cornerback in veteran Aqib Talib, he has to keep his emotions and body language in check, too.
"You just have to take a deep breath, relax and let the game come to you," Green said. "I was pressing. Just go out there and continue to have fun. Go out there and play."