A.J. Green could return this season


CINCINNATI (AP) — Bengals running back Giovani Bernard has a torn anterior cruciate ligament, but star receiver A.J. Green might be able to return from a hamstring injury this season, coach Marvin Lewis said on Monday.

Scans on Bernard’s left knee confirmed the ACL tear, suffered on the final drive on Sunday. He’ll have surgery soon, costing Cincinnati its most versatile running back.

Green also will be out when the Bengals play at Baltimore (5-5) on Sunday with what amounts to their last chance to get back into the AFC North race. Green hurt his right hamstring on the Bengals’ first pass of the game.

Lewis said scans on Green’s hamstring detected a strain — not as severe as initially feared — and there’s a possibility he could return at some point.

The Bengals (3-6-1) are a long shot for the playoffs after a 16-12 loss to Buffalo at Paul Brown Stadium.

“It’s just a matter of how quickly he recovers through it,” Lewis said.

Green was in the trainer’s room during the open locker room period on Monday. At one point, he poked his head out the door and, with a big smile, yelled to a teammate and then went back inside.

Bernard caught three straight passes on the final drive that ended with an incompletion in the end zone. He stayed in the game for a couple of plays after getting his knee twisted and then took himself out. He went for a medical scan that detected the torn ligament.

“I thought he was just tired and we were getting him out for a play,” running back Rex Burkhead said. “Then when I found out afterward, I was like, ‘What?’ It was shocking news to me and I’m sure a lot of the guys. He was walking around like it wasn’t that bad.”

The two injuries are a significant blow to a team that has been one of the healthiest in the league. Green is among the NFL’s leaders with 66 catches for 964 yards. Bernard is second on the team with 39 catches for 336 yards. Bernard also has rushed for 337 yards, second to Jeremy Hill’s 623 yards.

“Words can’t really put it how I feel,” Hill said on Monday, standing next to Bernard’s locker. “Guys have to step in there and not miss a beat. Obviously it’s easy to say that with guys like A.J. and Gio going down, but that’s what we have to do if we want to accomplish the things we want to accomplish.”

The Bengals self-destructed against the Bills. Mike Nugent missed both of his extra-point attempts, hitting the right upright. The Bengals considered looking at another kicker, but decided to stick with Nugent and help him work out his problems. In the past three games, Nugent has missed three extra points and a field goal.

“I’ve given it a lot of thought,” Lewis said. “We’re going to move forward with Mike.”

Lewis noted there was a downside to bringing in an unfamiliar kicker at this point in the season. Nugent is in his seventh season with the Bengals.

“I’m way more comfortable with helping Mike get corrected through this,” Lewis said. “This is where we’re going to be today.”

Notes: Lewis hadn’t seen video of LB Vontaze Burfict making a gesture toward a fan with his hand during the game, so he had no comment about it. … CB Dre Kirkpatrick injured his left knee in the second half, but a scan after the game found no serious injury. He’s not sure whether he’ll be available to play against the Ravens. … Lewis said several other players who were hurt should be able to recover during the week.

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