A.J. Green admits he's 'rusty,' but remains confident he'll get on the same page with Joe Burrow

James Rapien

CINCINNATI — A.J. Green said something that plenty of Bengals fans have thought about over the past week. The 32-year-old wide receiver hasn't looked like his normal self in their first two games

"For me, I’m just still rusty," Green said when asked about his performance. "I’m still learning this system. I’m still trying to get comfortable in the routes that I’m running."

Green hadn't played in an entire NFL game in nearly two years prior to the Bengals season opener against the Chargers on Sept. 13. He only had four days to rebound and play the Browns. 

After a virtual offseason and a unique training camp, he acknowledges that he's still trying to get on the same page with rookie quarterback Joe Burrow.

"I like to work, I like to feel comfortable," Green said. "Not even having an offseason, I missed a lot of training camp. Then we didn’t have any preseason, so that’s a lot of time to miss and then go into the first game and feel comfortable. But I make no excuses, I just go out there and work. I know it’s going to be tough, but I accept the challenge. That’s part of being great."

Green wasn't complaining. Instead, he was offering context. The seven-time Pro Bowler was ripped nationally after finishing with three receptions for 29 yards against the Browns. He was targeted 13 times by Burrow. 

Green wasn't getting the separation than we're used to seeing, which led some to wonder if he was ever going to regain his elite form. 

He's still getting comfortable in Zac Taylor's offensive system. He was in meetings and knew the playbook last season, but he missed the entire year with an ankle injury. 

"This is a whole different offense. It’s more complex," Green said. "You’re moving around more. There are a lot of different things. So, for me, it’s just getting comfortable with all these routes and all these concepts and all these positions."

Burrow just missed Green on a deep ball on the first play of the game against the Browns. The ball sailed out of bounds and although Green caught it, he was unable to get both feet down. 

The duo also failed to hook up on what would've been a 31-yard touchdown in the third quarter against the Chargers. Burrow only has one completion of over 20 yards this season. 

“That’s something that’s an emphasis for me this week, is just getting that right,” Burrow said on Wednesday. “We are gonna get more opportunities. We just have to connect on them.”

The Eagles have allowed seven plays of 20 or more yards in two games. They have a top cornerback in Darius Slay, but their secondary is beatable. These struggles may be frustrating, but they aren't unexpected. 

"I knew there were going to be growing pains," Green said. "I want to be great and I accept the challenge. For me, all I know is to keep working and I know I’ll get better each week."

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