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Posts tagged with "A.J. Green"

The Packers’ best new face so far is the player selected with the 33rd pick in the draft.

Green Bay Press Gazette-USA TODAY NETWORK

The Green Bay Packers have 21 players on the current 53-man roster who were not on it at the end of last season.

Of those 21, the Packers acquired them as follows:

  • Nine free agent signings
  • Six picks from the 2017 NFL Draft
  • Three undrafted rookies
  • One player claimed on waivers from another team (Chris Odom)
  • One player signed off another team’s practice squad (Ulrick JohnCardinals)
  • One player who spent 2016 on the Packers’ practice squad (Lucas Patrick)

Of those players, however, two stand out among all others as the best newcomers to the Packers’ roster so far in this early season. Those two are the Packers’ top two draft picks, cornerback Kevin King and safety/nitro linebacker Josh Jones.

However, while Jones has been a playmaker in the middle of the defense, playing primarily inside linebacker over the past two games, King’s early emergence as a boundary corner has been critical to the Packers’ success in defending the pass.

For some context, the Packers are currently 5th in passing yards allowed, though their ranking drops to 17th in opponents’ passer rating and they are 15th in pass DVOA. Last season in those three measures, the team ranked 31st, 26th, and 23rd, respectively.

Still, the Packers have faced significant issues at the cornerback position this season, with veteran free agent signing Davon House missing two-plus games with an injury and third-year players Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins effectively being benched over the past two weeks. Not coincidentally, King has stepped into the starting lineup and since doing so he has largely held his own against a few of the premier wide receivers in the NFL.

After Julio Jones was torching the Packers in the early going during their week two game in Atlanta, King entered the game and shadowed him for much of the rest of the game, keeping him largely in check and not allowing a reception into his coverage. King struggled a bit more when asked to shadow the Bengals’ A.J. Green in week three, but played well against a brutally weak Bears’ receiving corps in week four. Furthermore, APC’s Peter Bukowski found this little nugget which, small sample size aside, is certainly notable:

Packers rookie Kevin King has a better passer rating allowed in coverage than Patrick Peterson, Desmond Trufant, and Marcus Peters.

Meanwhile, the players lining up at the other corner spots have rotated heavily. Randall’s struggles led to his benching against the Bears, meaning Josh Hawkins played every snap in the second half last Thursday. Rollins, meanwhile, was removed from the lineup prior to week three’s game, being replaced as the primary slot cornerback by Morgan Burnett.

Of course, Josh Jones has provided some highlight-reel plays, including a pair of sacks in week three and some notable tackles for loss. However, the Packers’ defense would still be able to function without him lining up in the middle — in fact, they did so for much of the first half against Chicago, moving him around and giving him some rest when they lined up with a pair of more conventional inside linebackers.

Remove King from the equation and the Packers would be down to an injured veteran, two benched third-year pros, a second-year undrafted free agent, and an undrafted rookie who has yet to take a snap on defense in a regular season game.

For that reason, Kevin King earns our vote as the Packers’ best newcomer over the first quarter of the 2017 season.

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Cincinnati looks to break into the win column in the unfriendly confines of Lambeau Field.

A.J. Green
 Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images

Traveling to Lambeau Field for a game against the Green Bay Packers is never an easy proposition. But the task becomes even more daunting when you are a Cincinnati Bengalsteam that has dropped its first two games of the season on its own turf.

Cincinnati will try to find the formula for success that has eluded so many others when traveling to Green Bay on Sunday, September 24, 2017 for a 4:25 p.m. showdown.

Green Bay comes into the contest fresh off a 34-23 road dismantling by the Atlanta Falconsthat saw its record drop to 1-1. It also put an end to the initial optimism generated by its 17-9 win over Seattle in the Packers’ home opener.

Cincinnati, with a record of 0-2, tries to join a list of 27 other teams since 1990 who began the season at 0-2 and went on to make the playoffs. The 2003 Philadelphia Eagles are the only team in NFL history to do so after losing its first two games at home.

Sunday will mark the 13th meeting between the two teams, with the Bengals claiming victories the last three times the teams have met. All three games have been close, with the Bengals winning in Cincinnati by a 34-30 score in 2013, the last time these two teams played. The Bengals prevailed in Green Bay by a 31-24 margin in 2009 and won in Cincinnati in 2005, 21-14.

Probably the most memorable of those affairs was the 2013 contest, a game that saw the Bengals offense overcome a sloppy performance that included four turnovers and the failure to record a first down from the three-minute mark of the first quarter until early in the fourth.

Cincinnati’s defense, meanwhile, led by Vontaze Burfict, held Green Bay to 100 yards of total offense in the first half, including one of seven on third down. The Packers still managed to lead by a 30-14 margin midway through the third quarter before interceptions by Terence Newmanand Leon Hall and an A.J. Green touchdown reception helped close the gap to 30-27.

The Packers, attempting to run out the clock, faced a 3rd-and-12 from the Bengals 41-yard-line with just over four minutes remaining. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers hit Randall Cobb for what appeared to be a first down, but a Marvin Lewis challenge left Green Bay facing fourth-and-one with four minutes left.

Green Bay went for it, and running back Johnathan Franklin fumbled short of the sticks. Cincinnati’s Reggie Nelson recovered and lost the ball six yards into his return. The Bengals’ Terence Newman scooped up the loose ball up in stride and returned it 58 yards for the deciding touchdown.

Struggle has been the word of the day for the Bengals’ offense in 2017. Against the Baltimore Ravens on opening day, Cincinnati turned the ball over five times, including four interceptions, and quarterback Andy Dalton was sacked five times. Dalton had a little more success against Houston and committed no turnovers. But he was still sacked three times in the first half, and the result was another loss.

The Bengals now have a new offensive coordinator in Bill Lazor and hope to be able to get A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert more involved. Those two, along with the addition of John Ross and more consistency in a running game led by Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard, hope to get Cincinnati into the win column for the first time.

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Home games are always vital

Andrew from West Allis, WI

Sorry to hear about Perry’s hand, but I’m super-excited to see the cast-petting celebration as soon as he’s cleared to play. What’s your favorite player celebration and who did it?

Billy “White Shoes” Johnson with the funky chicken dance, followed by the splits and the behind-the-back fake throw. You can’t beat it.

Daniel from Copenhagen, Denmark

It seems like the Inbox is still lingering on the Atlanta game. Let’s really get on to Cincinnati. What is the key to winning this game? Is it just containing A.J. Green or is it something more?

It’s the Packers playing like the Packers. This game isn’t about the Bengals, it’s about the Packers. That means containing the run, winning the turnover battle, and making more big plays than the opponent. That’s McCarthy football.

Corey from Mooresville, NC

I know the Bengals offense hasn’t been clicking as of late and with the new offensive coordinator. Do you see them trying to run the ball more against the Packers?

Yes. I’ve had that feeling all week, and McCarthy confirmed it on Thursday. There’s no better way to rebuild a foundation for a struggling quarterback than to give him a running game, and the Bengals have three backs they can turn to.

Amanda from Villa Rica, GA

Every week I find myself getting more and more excited for game day as the days go by. This week is no exception. Now I know that it’s only Week 3 and we play our best football in December, but how important is a win against the Bengals?

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CINCINNATI, OH – SEPTEMBER 29: A.J. Green #18 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates while running off of the field after defeating the Miami Dolphins 22-7 at Paul Brown Stadium on September 29, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

All it took was a quick scan of the locker room to remind Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green that he’s been around longer than most of his teammates.

But it wasn’t until last weekend when the rookies arrived that things really sunk in for Green after seeing one face in particular.

“The crazy part is I had this guy who participated when I first had my camp in South Carolina. He won the MVP, and he was here,” Green said, referring to University of Kentucky running back Boom Williams.

Asked how that made him feel, Green said, ‘Old. Very old. I’m getting up there.”

The good news for Green is that that feeling hasn’t moved beyond his mind. Speaking with reporters for the first time since the voluntary offseason workout program began last month, Green says his body, and specifically the hamstring that ended his 2016 season after 10 games, feels great.

“I feel good. I feel bigger,” he said. “My hamstring feels great. I had no problem with that. I’m ready to go. I’m anxious to get back out there and try to have one of the better seasons of my career.”

With 66 catches for 964 yards through nine games, Green was on pace for 117 receptions and 1,714 yards, both of which would have been career highs. He said he was 100 percent healthy the week leading up to the Christmas eve game in Houston, but the decision to shut him down with the Bengals out of the playoffs was out of his hands.

“I was ready to go,” he said. “I ran my fastest GPS time during the practice. Ran a big post down. So I was fine.”

But that disappointment is in the past, as are the Bengals careers of long-time leaders Andrew Whitworth and Domata Peko, who left in free agency. Green said he knows that means there is more responsibility on his shoulders to step into a role as a vocal leader.

“The 2011 class is going to be the leaders around here,” he said, referring to himself, quarterback Andy Dalton and left guard Clint Boling.

“I feel like we’ve still got to be more vocal for some of the young guys,” he added. “I think we’re ready to step up. I feel like we’ll be great leaders.”

Green also said he feels the offense as a whole is going to make more noise with the addition of first-round wide receiver John Ross and second-round running back Joe Mixon.

“I’ve played with some fast guys, but not that fast,” Green said of Ross. “That’s a different kind of speed.

“With (Ross’) speed, he’s always going to keep everything honest,” Green said. “That’s really going to help us. For me, it keeps the defense honest. Can’t just lock on me.

“Having him on the field just creates a different dynamic that we didn’t have here the past couple of years with his speed,” Green added. “I feel like we’re definitely getting a lift. We had Marvin (Jones) and Mo (Sanu) when they were coming into their own and had Tyler Eifert healthy, I feel like our offense was at its best when we all were on the field together. I feel like we’re getting back to that.”

Green has always been cordial and willing to speak to reporters, but he usually keeps his answers, and the interview as a whole, short. Monday he backed up what he said about being more vocal by talking for more than 11 minutes.

When the subject turned to the controversial pick of Mixon, Green didn’t shy away from offering his thoughts, just as he said he won’t shy away from offering to help his new teammate in any manner possible.

“I’m a god-fearing guy, and I feel like everybody deserves a second chance,” Green said. “I don’t condone what he’s done. He can’t take that back. I know he would like to. I feel like the Christian man in me, with my faith, that’s the Christian way to do. I’m going to give the guy a chance.

“You don’t look upon somebody, you help them,” he continued. “I feel like bringing him into the locker room with Andy and I being the leaders of the offense will really help him.”

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There’s a run on wide receivers in the draft, and the Bengals just chose a receiver who can run.

With the ninth overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft, the Bengals selected  wide receiver from Washington.

Ross set the NFL Scouting Combine record by running a 4.22-second 40-yard dash, so the Bengals now have the fastest player in the NFL, at least by Combine speed. Ross and A.J. Green will be a tough pair of receivers for opposing secondaries to stop.

There have already been three receivers taken in this year’s draft, with Corey Davis going No. 5 to the Tennessee Titans and Mike Williams going No. 7 to the Los Angeles Chargers.

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The Bengals could use another playmaker on offense, and Corey Davis is certainly worth a top-10 selection.

Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

With all the pressing needs Cincinnati has, it would seem like taking receiver in the top 10 would be out of the question.

However, Corey Davis is the kind of receiver who can upgrade any passing game, including a Bengals offense that relies far too heavily on A.J. Green without much support from others.

And while spending a first-round pick on someone from Western Michigan of all places seems like a reach, Davis isn’t just a small-school receiver torching bad competition. As a true freshman in 2013, Davis set school freshman records with 67 grabs for 941 yards (14.0 avg.) to go with six touchdowns. As a sophomore in 2014, he had 78 catches for 1,408 yards (18.1 avg.) and 15 scores.

During his junior year in 2015, Davis had 90 catches for 1,436 yards (16.1 avg.) and 12 scores. He had the chance to go pro and be drafted, but he wanted to come back and boost his stock enough to be a first-round selection, which he is now all but guaranteed of accomplishing.

This past season, Davis caught 97 balls for 1,500 yards (15.9 avg.) and 19 more scores. Against Toledo on Nov. 25, Davis became the all-time FBS leader in receiving yards. Putting up these kinds of numbers on any level of college football is impressive, and Davis is someone the Bengals should take a hard look at in this week’s draft.

Here is why the Bengals should take Davis with the No. 9 pick:

  • Davis is the most completely receiver in this draft, and he would give this offense a big shot in the arm after it took a step back last year.
  • Davis is the superior route runner to Mike Williams and John Ross, two other receivers getting hype for top-10 selections.
  • It’s no secret that Andy Dalton is one of the weaker-armed starting quarterbacks in the NFL, and he needs guys who can win in the short-to-intermediate routes, which is where Davis does his damage.
  • Brandon LaFell is not the long-term answer as the No. 2 receiver, something Davis would quickly become.
  • Davis is also great winning 50-50 balls, something this receiver group needs more of other than Green.
  • It’s possible Davis is the best player available when Cincinnati goes on the clock, and the BPA approach is often the right one.

Here is why the Bengals should pass on Davis:

  • The Bengals have far more pressing needs than another receiver, especially this high.
  • LaFell, Tyler Boyd and Cody Core showed they can be reliable options next to Green, so there’s no need for Davis.
  • that’s not even accounting for Tyler Eifert, who is like a No. 2/3 receiver in this offense, making it even harder for Davis to have a big role.
  • The one thing this receiver group could use is more speed, but Davis doesn’t offer that anymore than what’s already there.
  • Davis is also recovering from ankle surgery that could limit his availability in OTAs and training camp.
  • He’s had nagging injuries throughout his career, and it’s not like the Bengals have great luck with banged-up players coming into the NFL either.
  • This draft has enough quality wide receivers that the Bengals can get a good contributor in Rounds 2-3, and in this offense, it’s hard for any receiver to be anything more than a ‘good contributor’ when playing second fiddle to Green.

In the end, Davis is a nice player worthy of a top-10 pick, but he just doesn’t move the needle with this Bengals team as much as other guys at this pick would.

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