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Tag:A.J. Green
Posted on: September 11, 2011 5:34 pm
 

X-Rays negative on Andy Dalton's injured wrist

Posted by Will Brinson

The Andy Dalton Era in Cincinnati started out pretty well -- the rookie quarterback went 10 of 15 for 81 yards and a touchdown. Then, on the Bengals last offensive play of the first half, Dalton got jacked up by Browns rookie Phil Taylor and left the game with a wrist injury.

There's still no confirmation on exactly what the extent of Dalton's injury is, but according to head coach Marvin Lewis, x-rays on Dalton's wrist came back negative and he'll be probable for the second week's game.

"It's fine," Dalton said after the game, per Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer. "I couldn't have gripped the ball like I wanted to. The plan is to play next week."

Bruce Gradkowski stepped up in Dalton's place and didn't played pretty poorly, going 5 of 12 for 92 yards, but he found made up for it by finding rookie A.J. Green for the go-ahead touchdown. Or, at least, well enough to help the Bengals win 27-17 over division rival Cleveland.

And that's good news should Dalton be forced to miss any time as a result of the injury. Perhaps the best news, though, is early indications are that Cincy seems to have done pretty well with its first two selections of the 2011 NFL Draft.



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Posted on: August 13, 2011 11:10 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 2:17 am
 

How 2011's rookies fared during the first week

Posted by Will Brinson



Rookies are at a disadvantage during the 2011 season, because of the shortened amount of time they were given to prep for the season due to the lockout. As such, they're likely to struggle substantially early.

But not every rookie will struggle.

For instance, in the Falcons preseason opener on Friday, Julio Jones flashed enough explosiveness to warrant Mike Smith describing him as "outstanding" after Atlanta loss against the Dolphins.

Had the first teams stayed in, we likely would have gotten more glimpses of the reason Thomas Dimitroff traded up 21 spots to nab the Alabama product -- he turned a pair of short grabs into 43 yards quickly and a reverse for 12 yards looked like it could have easily gone for more.

Atlanta believes the reason the missed a shot at the Super Bowl in 2010 was their lack of big playmaking. And correctly so. Jones appears -- in an admittedly small sample size -- to be very nice remedy for that problem.

Things didn't go quite as swimmingly for Bengals rookie quarterback Andy Dalton, who managed to post somewhat decent stats -- 11/15, 69 yards and an interception. But don't listen to me on that.

Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden's description (he said Dalton's start "wasn't a total debacle") probably summed it up best.

Dalton struggled mightily, and not just because Gruden put him in tough spots by trying to take shots downfield with Ndamukong Suh breathing down his neck (he did). Of course, it didn't help that Suh popped his helmet off and chunked him to the ground late in the first quarter either. That's enough to make a man quit his job for good, especially on the first day.
NFL Preseason Week 1

Dalton doesn't have the arm strength or athleticism to just step in and overcome inexperience. Even some of his completions -- including a quick out to Jerome Simpson from the shotgun set -- were off and didn't do his receivers any favors.

Speaking of his receivers, A.J. Green looks like the real deal, insomuch as one could determine that from the shorter passes he caught from Dalton. Not to sound weird, but I'd be cool with just watching him run and jump all day. (That's weird, isn't it? Crap.)

Point is, Green's athletic as hell and all the hype about him before the season might not be that overblown.

Also not overblown? Cam Newton's athleticism. Whooooo-boy. But Newton's a good-news/bad-news situation. See, his athleticism is unquestioned. He's a freak. A totally different package of size, strength and speed than we've ever seen in the NFL. But as expected he isn't precisely polished. That's the bad news.

The good news is that Newton has clearly progressed from where he was when we last saw him (read: the combine). If Newton can make strides like that without serious hand-on guidance from the coaching staff, I'm willing to bet he can eventually become a great quarterback. He's got a cannon for an arm, but his touch was clearly off on some throws.

That may not matter for Carolina, though, as even though Jimmy Clausen played pretty darn well after throwing a pick six on his second throw, there could be riots in Charlotte if Newton doesn't start right away simply because he oozes potential.

Blaine Gabbert also oozed enough of something for the Jaguars to trade up for him. Could it have been composure, perhaps?

"I thought [Gabbert] was composed and did a good job making decisions," Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio said following Saturday's blowout loss to New England. "He looked like he belonged. It was a good beginning."

Gabbert finished 9/16 for 85 yards with no touchdowns (but no picks) and got hosed by a number of drops from his wide receivers. That being said, he looked like most of the other rookies we saw, in that he struggled at times to step up and complete passes in the pocket.

Gabbert definitely showed some flashes that should give the Jaguars optimism for his future, but if you go back and watch the game (or, if you prefer, just scan the play-by-play), you won't many combinations of the words "complete" and "deep." The Jaguars kept things short, as one might expect, particularly given the dearth of weapons available to the rookie on Thursday.

Speaking of that Patriots-Jaguars game, um, Ryan Mallett's really good. OK, "really good" might be a stretch but how about good? Or good? One of those should work well enough to emphasize how he might be the most pro-ready quarterback in this rookie class.

Mallett's got poise in the pocket, doesn't seem scared of pressure, knows when to run, has a big arm and confident in moving through his progression. Plus -- and this might have to do with his familiarity in a pro-style system -- you do just don't see him float throws like other rookie quarterbacks.

I mean, yeah, it doesn't hurt that he's being mentored by Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, and, yeah, we're not like five years away from watching the hoodie stroll the sidelines with a crooked cane while Mallett and a gorgeous mane of hair takes down a Super Bowl win, but -- surprise, surprise -- New England might have found a steal in the draft with their third-round nab of Mallett.

It's definitely too early to call Titans rookie Jake Locker a "steal" (and, I'd argue, he was taken too meet such qualifications, barring an absolute blowup), but he looked particularly comfortable in going 7/10 for 89 yards and a teeter while running the Titans offense on Saturday night.

The play that clearly stood out? Locker fumbling the snap on the first play after Tennessee's defense forced a turnover, recovering his own fumble, rolling out right, setting his feet and chucking a 45-yard bomb Yamon Figurs for his first professional touchdown.

For whatever reason, Locker seemed to fit the bill for "prepared" in a completely different way than Mallett. Thrust into a difficult situation with no real weapons -- paging Chris Johnson! -- and pressure as the not-too-far-off future of the franchise, Locker seemed to manage the game in a hyperactive, scrappy kind of way.

That's not to say that he's the NFL's David Eckstein or anything, obviously. And maybe it's just that the Titans know what to do with him. (Credit to Doug Farrar over at Shutdown Corner if this happens -- he's been driving the Locker bandwagon, based on his situation, for a while now.) Obviously they didn't plan to have him fumble, recover and scramble, but you could see that when Locker rolled out he could sling darts.

Christian Ponder's first career completion in the NFL was also a rollout. The rookie out of Florida State hit fellow rook Kyle Rudolph for a 10-yard gain, but that might have been the highlight for Ponder. He never really had the poise that we expected from the most "ready" (theoretically) quarterback in the first round, and at times he looked a bit lost and/or overwhelmed especially at first and, surprisingly, seemed to have his most success when on the move, outside of the pocket.

One of those on-the-move plays should have resulted in a first down on a 3rd-and-16, but was called back for a personal foul penalty. The interesting thing is that Ponder managed to avoid a sack, buy time and made a crucial throw on the move; yes, it was pretty surprising given what we expected from him.

It was also surprising considering Ponder faced off against the third-string defense.

On the bright side: it's just one game. And it's early. That's the beauty of preseason.

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Posted on: August 13, 2011 10:59 am
Edited on: August 13, 2011 1:19 pm
 

Dalton's first start 'wasn't a total debacle'

Posted by Will Brinson

Andy Dalton took his first in-game snaps as an NFL quarterback on Friday night, and things did not go as well as Ryan and I predicted they might in our recent AFC North preview.

In fact, they went quite poorly -- Dalton (under)threw a terrible interception on his first pass of the night, managed to have Ndamukong Suh -- literally -- pop his helmet off, and generally looked lost despite finishing with an 11-for-15 line that produced 69 yards.

But, hey, Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden said it wasn't a "total debacle" for the rook!

"The game wasn’t a total debacle on his part," Gruden said, per Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer. "He can get better as can everyone else. The good thing is there isn’t anyone that can say 'Hey, I'm awesome.' Everybody can say they have a lot of improvement to do."

Gruden also pointed out that Cincy's offense "has a long way to go" and pointed to the early interception as the team trying "to take a shot to A.J. [Green]" only to have Suh storm up the middle and pressure Dalton.

Said pressure might have been mitigated by waiting a little while for said shot, but, hey, whatever. He's the boss. (Well, not the boss. The boss is the guy who refuses to trade Carson Palmer and try to help Dalton down the line. But you get the point.)

And it's the first preseason game for the Bengals in a shortened year, and the first start in Dalton's career. So the "everyone has lots of improvement" argument does hold some water.

However, when you start throwing around the phrase "wasn't a total debacle" it makes you kind of sound like General Custer's publicist or something.

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Posted on: August 8, 2011 1:23 pm
 

Dalton tops Cincy depth chart, his 'job to lose'

Posted by Will Brinson

Carson Palmer's situation -- he and the Bengals are playing a game of chicken with his retirement that would impress the Bluth brothers -- has led the Bengals to likely start rookie Andy Dalton under center to begin the season.

Indeed, Cincy's first depth chart was released Monday and, as noted by our Bengals Rapid Reporter Paul Dehner, Jr., Dalton leads the way in terms of quarterbacks listed.

No, it's not that shocking to see Dalton up top, especially after his offensive coordinator recently told reporters that he was "assuming" that Dalton would be the Bengals starter from the get-go.

And considering that his competition is Jordan Palmer, Dan LeFevour and Bruce Gradkowski, but it's still impressive to see the faith Cincy has in him.

In fact, Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com believes that the starting QB gig is "Dalton's to lose" and he is "playing quarterback with the poise of a No. 1 overall pick."

We've already chronicled just how impressed the coaching staff is with rookie wideout A.J. Green. And while some of the praise for these two youngsters seems a bit over-the-top for even the staunchest optimist, if the description of their play is accurate there's reason to be hopeful for Cincy football fans.

Which is not what you can usually expect this time of year, especially with the personnel departure that the Bengals dealt with this offseason.

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Posted on: August 1, 2011 6:09 pm
 

Lewis: A.J. Green 'an upgrade' over Ochocinco, TO

Posted by Will Brinson

A.J. Green is, without question, a very talented football player. But is he going to make an immediate impact? And is he an upgrade over Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens already?

According to Marvin Lewis, yes, yes he is.

"He showed his physical prowess out there today," Lewis said, per Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com. "He's an upgrade … we're improved athletically."

That's a pretty bold statement because, for all of their shenanigans, Ocho and Owens are pretty talented receivers.

And it probably needs to be taken with a grain of salt since it's coming from one of the guys who helped make the decision not to retain the pair.

But it also warrants mentioning that Hobson, who covers the Bengals for thet team, was pretty impressed as well.

"[Lewis] is like everyone else down here at camp raving about No. 1 pick A.J. Green," Hobson writes. "He catches everything, no one's covered him, and when he is, he jumps up and takes it away."

And, just to had fuel to the fire is safety Chris Crocker, who was the victim on one of Green's catches, when, according to Hobson, Green "launched himself over [Crocker] to make one of those "wow" catches where you can hear him snap the ball like some amphibian at the top of his jump."

"He's in the upper echelon right now, I'd say," said Crocker.

So, yeah, lots of bold praise for the rookie early in camp. There's a good chance he lives up to said praise. And, without question, he has the talent to become a great wide receiver. The only issue is that -- for now -- he's going to be catching balls from either Andy Dalton or Bruce Gradkowski.

Even Ocho and Owens didn't have to overcome that last year.

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Posted on: July 28, 2011 2:32 pm
Edited on: July 28, 2011 11:15 pm
 

2011 NFL Draft rookie contracts coming in

Posted by Will Brinson

There's been plenty of action in free agency thus far (don't forget to follow it all in our live, updating Experience and with our 2011 NFL Free Agency Tracker!), but it also warrants mentioning that there have been a good number of first-round draft picks signed by various teams over the past few days.

Interestingly, many of these players who are signing have received fully guaranteed contracts, something you don't typically see with rookies, even though the total contracts, because of the new rookie wage system, are coming in lower than previous years.

For instance, the Cowboys signed Tyson Smith, their top pick, likely right tackle for 2011 and eventual successor to Doug Free, to a four-year, $12.5 million deal which is entirely guaranteed. By contrast, C.J. Spiller, taken in the same spot last season by the Bills, received a five-year, $25 million deal with $20.5 million guaranteed.

The Bengals signed Georgia wideout A.J. Green to a four-year, $19.6 million deal, all of which is also guaranteed, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer's Joe Reedy. (Trent Williams, by contrast, got $60 million with $36.5 guaranteed out of the No. 4 slot from the Redskins in 2010.)

The 49ers reported via Twitter that they've signed all their draft picks, including second-round quarterback Colin Kaepernick (four-year deal) and first-round defensive end Aldon Smith. Financials haven't been put out yet.

The same goes for the Buccaneers, who signed first- and second-round picks Adrian Clayborn and Da'Quan Bowers (deets on the monies aren't out yet last I checked).

In Denver, Von Miller is "expected" to sign a four-year, $21-million deal with the Broncos soon. He probably would have seen up to $50 million more (not all guaranteed, of course) under the old rookie salary system. The ironic part? He was a named plaintiff on the Brady v. NFL lawsuit. It's worth noting that Miller's not sweating losing any pile of money and says he "plans on getting three, four, five contracts."

[(UPDATED 4:47 p.m. ET): John Elway confirms the team has agreed to terms with Miller. Wrote Elway on his Twitter feed: "Can't wait to get him on the field."]

The final thing to remember as the first-year player contracts start to come in? There's a fifth-year team option built into these four-year deals, and that deal must be picked up by the end of the third year or else the amount owed balloons to an average of the top-10 salaries at the position.

If a player performs well in his first three seasons then, he stands to either get locked for a fifth year or find himself inked to a new contract sooner than he expected.

Everything's not all roses, though. Agent Jack Bechta writes at the National Football Post that some teams are utilizing dollars for later-round picks and allocating them towards first rounders. It's not happening often, at least right now, but Bechta cites it as a "disturbing trend" because it's something that could potentially create a false inflation system for first-round picks as agents try to get more money than the player drafted the previous year.

There's not telling how often that will happen going forward, but it's still a bit concerning as the rookies current wages are pushed back because of the new CBA.

On the bright side, if shifting salaries does happen, it's a lot less likely that JaMarcus Russell remains the biggest NFL Draft bust forever. So there's that.

UPDATED 7:48 p.m. ET: The Jaguars have announced that No. 10 overall pick, QB Blaine Gabbert, has signed his contract.

UPDATED 11:14 p.m. ET: No. 13 pick Nick Fairley has signed a four-year deal worth about $10 million with the Lions.

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Posted on: May 8, 2011 2:31 pm
 

AFC North draft truths revealed

Posted by Andy Benoit

One of the best things about the draft is that from it we can find out what teams really think about their current players. Excluding examples of teams filling obvious needs, here are some of the more revealing draft picks from 2011, with a quick blurb of what the team was really saying by making this pick.

Baltimore Ravens

2nd round, Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland
We’re not sure we want to re-sign T.J. Houshmandzadeh, and we need a downfield playmaker anyway. Plus, Derrick Mason can’t play forever…right?

3rd round, Jah Reid, OT, UCFA. Dalton (US Presswire)
Jared Gaither is far too flaky to bank on, and we prefer to play Marshall Yanda at guard.

4th round, Tandon Doss, WR, Indiana
We’re aware of the Torrey Smith-Darrius Heyward-Bey comparisons.

Cincinnati Bengals

1st round, A.J Green, WR, Georgia
We’re as sick of Chad Ochocinco as everyone else.

2nd round, Andy Dalton, QB, TCU
We’re not going to give an inch with Carson Palmer. Problem is, we don’t think he’ll give an inch with us either.

3rd round, Dontay Moch, OLB, Nevada
We’re not sure Michael Johnson has the ability or drive to be a stud starting linebacker. And we might be starting to realize the same thing about Keith Rivers.

Cleveland Browns

1st round, Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor
We need defensive linemen in the worst of ways. Taylor is perfect because he’s Shaun Rogers without being Shaun Rogers.

2nd round, Greg Little, WR, North Carolina
Why spend a first-round pick on Julio Jones when you can get a handful of extra picks and a player who, talent-wise, is not all that far off from Jones? All it takes is a little maneuvering and a slight willingness to overlook character concerns.

Pittsburgh Steelers

2nd round, Marcus Gilbert, OT, Florida
At some point offensive line coach Sean Kugler won’t have the patience of Job and will start pounding his fists on the table.

3rd round, Curtis Brown, CB, Texas
Yeah, yeah, we know about Green Bay’s spread formations in the Super Bowl. But a third-round pick isn’t going to do the trick. That’s why we’re praying we can re-sign Ike Taylor.

Check back throughout the week for other division’s Draft Truths Revealed. To see all Draft Truths Revealed, click the “Draft Truths” tag.

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Posted on: May 2, 2011 4:12 pm
Edited on: May 2, 2011 4:14 pm
 

Green, Stafford get golf tips at Stadion Classic

Posted by Will Brinson

John Smoltz -- who missed the cut by like 25 strokes, ouch -- wasn't the only celebrity golfer on the Nationwide Tour in Georgia this weekend. Former Georgia Bulldogs and current NFL players A.J. Green (just drafted by the Bengals) and Matthew Stafford (Lions quarterback) were on hand at the Stadion Classic in Athens, Georgia, to get some free lessons from a few pros.

Stafford, the veteran with a pretty sweet swing, got some tips from weekend winner Bubba Watson (well, Bubba won the PGA Tour event anyway). Having seen both of these guys in action, that'd be a fun pair to put in a foursome.



Meanwhile, the rookie Green, who has ... some work to do on his swing.



Fortunately for him, if the labor situation continues as it is, he's likely to have plenty of time to practice.
 
 
 
 
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