There was a time that A.J. Green consistently ranked among the NFL's top wide receivers. After two straight injury-riddled seasons, however, that's no longer the case, and the longtime Cincinnati Bengals star is well aware of it. Addressing his return from an ankle injury that kept him sidelined for all of 2019, Green told ESPN this weekend that he's "tired of seeing" WR rankings and is out to prove he still belongs among the NFL's best pass catchers.
The 32-year-old Green "initially said he wasn't one to get caught up in where he ranks," according to ESPN's Ben Baby, but with the 2020 campaign now right around the corner, the seven-time Pro Bowler is apparently eager to prove his doubters wrong.
"I'm tired of seeing everything -- 'A.J. should be a top-10 if he would've played,'" Green said. "All right, let's get the season started and we can get this thing settled."
Green, whose No. 1 "mission to this day" is getting to the Hall of Fame, believes he has at least four more elite seasons left in his career, according to Baby. The former first-round draft pick, who went fourth overall back in 2011, is locked up for at least one more season in Cincinnati, which exercised the $18.1 million franchise tag on Green to prevent the veteran from testing free agency.
A three-time All-Pro honoree, Green opened his NFL career on a Hall of Fame pace, topping 1,000 receiving yards in each of his first five seasons -- and eclipsing 1,300 and double-digit touchdowns in both 2012 and 2013. One more 1,000-yard season, in fact, would likely push him into the league's all-time top-50 list. Since 2016, however, he's missed 29 combined games, sitting out six in '16 with a hamstring injury, seven in 2018 with a toe issue and then all of last season due to torn ligaments in his ankle.
Green should have renewed opportunities to post No. 1 production in 2020. While the Bengals spent an early-round pick on Tee Higgins and figure to again lean on Tyler Boyd and Auden Tate, Green will easily be rookie quarterback Joe Burrow's most experienced and accomplished target out wide.