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John Harbaugh calls him the leading rebounder in the NFL.
Terrell Suggs said he’s the new Randy Moss.
That’s how much respect the Ravens have for Cincinnati Bengals rookie wide receiver A.J. Green – and they haven’t even played him yet.
Green missed the first meeting between the two teams on Nov. 20 because of a concussion, but is expected to suit up for this Sunday’s rematch despite a sore shoulder.
It will make an already vertically dangerous Bengals offense even more perilous.
“He goes up and gets a lot of balls,” Harbaugh said. “So, they’re going to throw it up to him.”
This year’s fourth-overall pick is a top candidate for AFC Offensive Rookie of the Year.
With 63 receptions for 1,031 yards and seven touchdowns, Green has broken sports analyst Cris Collinsworth’s 30-year record for most receiving yards in a season. He’s Cincinnati’s first rookie to ever be named to the Pro Bowl and the first in the NFL since 2003 when Anquan Boldin was selected.
Pollard On Bengals WRs
Green ranks in the top 10 in the NFL in receptions over 20 yards with 19 this season.
“He’s like Randy was when Randy first got into the league,” Suggs said. “Randy is becoming a noun in the NFL. You get beat deep, that’s called a ‘Randy!’ He is definitely one of those type of guys.”
Moss had 69 catches for 1,313 yards and 17 touchdowns as a rookie in 1998. He averaged 19 yards per catch.
Green’s rookie numbers aren’t quite atthat level, but he has definitely been a game-changer. Ravens safety Bernard Pollard said it was “big” that Green was out for the first game.
“He don’t care who is going up with him, he’s going to go up and he’s determined to come down with it,” Pollard said. “The dude is a playmaker. He’s just very talented.”
Green isn’t the only dangerous receiver for Cincinnati though.
Third receiver Andre Caldwell had three receptions for 63 yards and a touchdown, andtight end Jermaine Gresham had three catches for 48 yards. Five players averaged over 11 yards per catch, showing Cincinnati could still stretch the field.
“They’ve got talent everywhere,” Pollard said. “We’ve got to know where those guys are at all times. We’ve got to tackle. We can’t give up [yards after catch].”
It will be interesting to see who the Ravens match up on Green. Lardarius Webb has been their top cornerback, but he’s also one of their shortest.
When asked about Green, Webb simply said, “He’s a great wide receiver.”
Cary Williams is also another candidate since he returned to the practice field Wednesday after being knocked out of Saturday’s game with a concussion. It’s not guaranteed he’ll play, but it’s a good sign.
Suggs feels confident that ball-hawking safety Ed Reed will cut off Green and the deep passing game.
“We have something we call ‘The Fear Factor’ that lines up behind us,” Suggs said. “So we feel we’re pretty safe.”