DAYTON, Ohio – The Bengals left the first training camp of the Zac Taylor era holding their collective breath, and hoping that A.J. Green’s injury isn’t as bad as it looked on first blush.
Green landed awkwardly on his left foot after going up over Dre Kirkpatrick in a 7-on-7 drill on Saturday. Sources said the injury is believed to be a sprained ankle, but Green will have an MRI to make sure it isn’t something more serious. Green sat on the field after going down, where trainers checked his foot/ankle area, then helped him off to the bench. A few minutes later, he was loaded onto a cart, with his left foot elevated. He left the stadium in a car on crutches.
And that location, as it turns out, may have been an issue.
Cincinnati was at Dayton’s Welcome Stadium as part of the NFL’s 100th-anniversary celebration. The league initially wanted the practice to be at Triangle Park, site of the first NFL game, and planned to build a $440,000 field there for the Bengals to work on. But a Native American group raised concerns it was on an old burial ground and, after a site survey, that plan was scrapped.
The NFL still wanted to follow through with the plan to practice in Dayton, and so the Bengals cleared the idea of going to the University of Dayton’s home stadium.
But after working there for an hour on Saturday, several Bengals staffers were frustrated that Green’s injury happened on a field that they saw as subpar. One mentioned that players were sliding all over the place during what was a shorter-than-usual camp practice. Another saw pebbles lodged into the turf.
It should be noted that there’s no clear correlation, yet at least, between the field conditions and Green’s injury–Green’s actually coming off a toe injury suffered last year on his right foot. But the general feeling was that the surface didn’t help.
The NFL declined comment when reached on Saturday.
The league is making a similar donation to another field in Dayton, in lieu of the Triangle Park idea falling through. And Bengals stars Andy Dalton and Green spent a good part of the day with kids in the area—fostering the team’s already strong relationship with the Dayton Schools.