Bengals prepare to play without WR Green

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green (18) against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Paul Brown Stadium.Photo: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Coach Marvin Lewis: "When A.J. is back and ready to go, he'll be back and ready to go."

During the bye week, A.J. Green was dealing with a foot injury sustained in the Week 37-34 win over Tampa Bay and coping with it by sporting a protective boot.

While various Cincinnati Bengals were enjoying the week off and getting ready to prepare for the 8-1 New Orleans Saints, Green was getting consultations about the injured foot and the second opinion he received from highly regarded foot specialist Dr. Robert Anderson stated that the star wide receiver does not need surgery.

That's the good news, but the 5-3 Bengals are not quite out of the woods with Green just yet as they gear up for their fourth game of the season against a division leader.

Just because Green does not need surgery does not mean he will play Sunday and it appears the Bengals will be forced to find contingency plans for their top receiver for at least this week and next week's visit to Baltimore.

"Well, you know, again, we just got to get ready to play New Orleans," head coach Marvin Lewis said. "When A.J. is back and ready to go, he'll be back and ready to go.

"Hopefully through that time, whether it's this week, next week or whenever, that we have an opportunity to grow and get better with other people, and that's important. He'll continue to do what A.J. does and that's bust his tail to get back out there as soon as he can."

Green is Cincinnati's top wideout with 687 yards and six touchdown catches. He also thrives in other statistical areas such as eight catches for 158 yards and two TDs in third downs along with 13 catches in the fourth quarter and two touchdowns when the Bengals trail with four minutes or less in a game.

"Obviously it puts a lot of pressure on us as individuals because we know what he brings to the table," tight end C.J. Uzomah said. "I mean, he's A.J. Green. A.J. Dream is what we call him - it's a dream to have him on the team."

Cincinnati is 3-6-1 in games missed by Green, who has missed some time in three of the last five seasons.

This time, the Bengals are glad they avoided the worst with their star wideout and believe Tyler Boyd can fill Green's absence for two weeks.

Boyd is up to 49 catches for 620 yards and five touchdowns and also thrives in various clutch categories.

He has 13 catches on third down with 12 turning into first downs and two turning into touchdowns. Boyd also owns seven catches when the Bengals trail with four minutes or less remaining and each one has become a first down, setting up Green.

Now the Bengals hope someone will step up to set things up for Boyd, who gets thrust into the spotlight due to another injury.

"The biggest thing is that he is so confident in what he's doing and what he can do," quarterback Andy Dalton said of Boyd. "Not that he wasn't before, it's just that with the opportunities we're giving him he's making the most of it. It's allowed him to play fast, and for him to be where he's at this year compared to last year, there's no reason for him not to have all the confidence in the world because he's been playing really well."

Playing shorthanded is nothing new for the Bengals, who lost tight end Tyler Eifert to a gruesome broken ankle, Joe Mixon for two games with knee surgery and Giovani Bernard for the last four games with a knee injury.

Coaches and players in any sport are fond of invoking the next man up cliche when injuries strike. For the Bengals, that has never been more fitting.

SERIES HISTORY: 14th regular-season meeting. Bengals lead series, 7-6. In the most recent meeting in 2014, the Bengals claimed a 27-10 win in New Orleans when QB Andy Dalton threw three touchdown passes. Cincinnati has won four of the last five meetings after dropping three straight from 1987 to 1993.