AJ Green Injury: Ruling Star WR out of Preseason Opener Is Right Move by Bengals

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistAugust 7, 2013

SEATTLE - OCTOBER 30:  Wide receiver A.J. Green #18 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on October 30, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver has been as good as advertised since being selected No. 4 overall in the 2011 NFL draft, which is why head coach Marvin Lewis and those in power are making the right decision by approaching his knee injury with caution.

According to ESPN.com, Green will not make the trip when the Bengals travel to Atlanta to take on the Falcons in their first preseason game of 2013 on Thursday.

Green has been held out of practice with a bruised left knee since the first day of training camp, and Lewis doesn't intend to take any chances with his star player.

'A.J. is not gonna go with us,' Lewis said. 'He's gonna stay here. He's been running in the pool. He'll start his on-field stuff this week and do a combination of both things. We just don't have the facilities to do it there.'

Regardless of how severe or insignificant Green's injury may be, there is no reason to force him into action. Green is only 25 years old, so getting some preseason work in is important, but he is familiar with the offense and has thrived during his first two NFL seasons.

Green is already a two-time Pro Bowler, as he has recorded more than 1,000 receiving yards in each of his NFL campaigns. Green was particularly good this past year as he reeled in 97 receptions for 1,350 yards and 11 touchdowns. Green is still learning, but he is already challenging Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson in the discussion of the NFL's top pass catchers.

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The fact of the matter is that the first preseason game is essentially useless to established starters. They generally play one series and then sit on the bench, so nothing compels the Bengals to rush Green into action. Anything can happen on the field, and it would be idiotic of Lewis and anyone else involved in the decision-making process to play Green on Thursday.

Luckily, Lewis is fully aware of that and common sense has prevailed. In fact, the Bengals can even afford to hold Green out of the second preseason game if need be. The third game is key since the starters tend to play an entire half, so as long as Green is good to go by then there won't be any issues.

Green seemingly isn't even safe on his own practice field right now, as Bengals linebacker James Harrison was very clear about his intentions regarding Green, according to Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer.

If Green's teammate is willing to get physical with him, there is no question that the Falcons' defenders would be looking to tee off. So many teams have been adversely impacted by huge injuries already this offseason, and the Bengals have no intention of joining that list.

With that said, Green sitting out shouldn't be a cause for concern. Bengals fans probably get heart palpitations every time they hear the words "Green" and "injury" in the same sentence, but there isn't much to be worried about. A knee bruise shouldn't be a long-term injury as long as the Bengals continue to treat Green like the crown jewel that he is.

The door is wide open for Cincinnati in the AFC North this season, as the Pittsburgh Steelers are coming off a disappointing campaign, the Baltimore Ravens lost a boatload of key players in free agency and the Cleveland Browns have yet to hit their stride.

Green must be healthy in order for the Bengals to make a run at the division title, and the organization is doing everything in its power to ensure that it happens.

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