The Cincinnati Bengals‘ injury-marred season is getting worse.
A week after quarterback Andy Dalton was lost season for the season with a torn ligament in his thumb, his top target, A.J. Green suffered a season-ending toe injury in Sunday’s 24-10 loss to the Denver Broncos.
Green wore a boot on his right foot Monday at Paul Brown Stadium to protect his injured right toe, which requires surgery after he suffered torn ligaments. Green, reportedly out three to four months, chose not to speak to reporters.
He becomes the 15th Bengals player to go on injured reserve this season. The Bengals put 12 players on IR before Dec. 1 the last three years combined.
Green suffered a toe injury in Week 8 as well against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that kept him out four weeks with three missed games and an off week.
Through the first eight games, Green had 45 receptions for 687 yards and six touchdowns. His 15.3 average yards per catch was the second-best mark of his career, and he was on pace for an eighth-straight Pro Bowl selection. Instead, Green will likely miss the Pro Bowl for the first time since entering the league in 2011 after appearing in a career-low nine games.
Green caught just one pass Sunday for seven yards before falling to the turf in pain in the second quarter. On the back of a cart rolling toward the locker room, Green put both hands over his face and became emotional.
Cincinnati (5-7) is on a four-game losing streak and two games behind the Baltimore Ravens for the final AFC playoff spot and just a half-game ahead of the Cleveland Browns for last place in the AFC North.
“Last I looked last night, we’re not out of it,” Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis said. “We’ve dug a huge hole and need a lot of things to work our way out, but maybe with everything else that’s gone against us, maybe we get some things to break our way.
“We just have to handle our business. Our job is to win football games, and that’s what they have to do — prepare to win.”
That is a tough task with having to travel to Los Angeles on Sunday to face the surging Chargers, who are 9-3 after winning eight of their last nine games.
“We’ve gotten use to that,” Bengals offensive coordinator Bill Lazor said in a press conference about the latest injury to Green.
Green’s absence for the rest of the season will greatly alter Lazor’s strategy.
“Well, we planned as if A.J. was back,” Lazor said. “We assumed that not playing for a while he might need a break during the game at times, but we were going to plan and call the game like he was in there and then when he wasn’t in there the next guy would go in there and take his spot, which is pretty much what we did.
“We tried not to move too many pieces around after he left the game. It’s a big strategic piece to miss because he’s a great player as well as emotionally I think the team was fired up for him to be back.”
–RB Joe Mixon is on the verge of getting 1,000 yards with the fewest carries by a Bengals running back since Ickey Woods got his 1,066 on 203 carries 30 years ago. Mixon is averaging out to 1,057 yards on 216 carries. In Cincinnati’s four-game losing streak, Mixon is averaging five yards per carry on just 12 carries per game.
–LB Vontaze Burfict left Sunday’s game against Denver with a concussion. His availability this Sunday is uncertain.
–CB Dre Kirkpatrick left Sunday’s game wearing a boot, but he returned to the field in time for Denver running back Philip Lindsay breaking a touchdown run of 65 yards.
–WR Alex Erickson fumbled for the first time this season as a punt returner on Sunday. It was only the third time he has fumbled in 44 career games.
–LT Cedric Ogbuehi, a former first-round pick, was deactivated before Sunday’s game against Denver. The Bengales moved LG Clint Boling to left tackle to face Denver Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate Bradley Chubb. Ogbuehi’s Bengals career is in serious doubt when his rookie contract runs out at the end of the season.