A.J. Green (ankle) still has 'a ways to go' to return

  • By Grant Gordon NFL.com
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As July was ending and A.J. Green had gone down with an ankle injury, the belief -- and hope -- was that he would miss only a few games at the onset of the season.

As October is closing in on its end, the Bengals wideout is still yet to play a game and his return seems to be a situation that's grown cloudier as it's been elongated.

"If I can go, I can go," Green said via the Dayton Daily News' Laurel Pfahler. "If I can't, I can't. It's no big thing. Like I said from Day 1, if I'm healthy enough to play then I'm going to play. Right now, I still have a ways to go."

Ahead of Week 6's slate of games, the seven-time Pro Bowler was in full pads going through individual drills. It was the first time since sustaining his injury that Green was able to do so and, for now, the last, as he did not practice ahead of Week 7's home game against the Jaguars.

Provided Green does return this season, whenever that may be, it will be his first game since Week 13 of a year ago, as his campaign concluded early due to a toe injury. The wide receiver played only nine games a season ago and if, going ahead, all goes as well as possible with Green,, the most he can play this time around will be nine games once again.

"Like I said, we're just gonna take our time with it," Green said. "There's no need to rush this thing. Like I said from Day 1, I'm gonna have to feel good to get back out there to where I can play at a high level to where I know I can. Just don't want to rush it back like I did with my toe (last year)."

With the Bengals (0-6) one of two remaining winless teams, a sense of urgency is likely rightfully absent with Cincy's mathematical elimination from the postseason probably coming sooner than then next truly meaningful game.

Muddying the waters, Green was aiming to sign a contract extension and his name has been attached to trade rumors.

"I don't think about none of that stuff," Green said. "That's the media finding something to talk about. That's the big topic right: Who could be traded? With the season we've had, everybody thinks I'm going to be traded. I'm trying to get healthy. I don't think about getting traded or anything like that. I'm not a guy who waits to get traded or not to get traded. We'll see what happens."

Seeing what happens -- unclear as that is -- appears to be the only semblance of an idea for when Green will return to the field and if he'll remain with the Bengals, which he's stated he wants to do.

"I didn't need any real serious surgery, so for me it's just resting and getting the muscles around it strong enough to where I can actually go out there and not overcompensate for something else and get hurt again," said Green, who added he was still dealing with a toe injury when he was in training camp. "That's my biggest thing, is not getting hurt again."

As Green aims to avoid further ailment and returning too soon, an ankle injury and any firm forecast for a return remain problematic. First wins and first games back for the face of the franchise have eluded the Bengals so far.