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AJ Green thinks Joe Burrow, off-season moves will boost Bengals

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AJ Green knows what it’s like to be a high draft pick entering the NFL in unique circumstances, and it’s that experience that leads him to believe his Bengals have the right parts in place.

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It was in 2011, the year of the NFL lockout, that Cincinnati selected Green fourth. A few months later, the Bengals, led by Green and fellow rookie Andy Dalton, set a record 9-7 and secured a spot in the AFC Wild Card Round.

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Although the challenges of the past few months are entirely different from those of nine years ago, players have faced similar setbacks in the form of a lack of OTA and access to team facilities due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Still, Green believes that the wave of off-season movement, including the addition of top pick Joe Burrow, will mean good things every time the team resumes its activities on the field.

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“Lots of people are playing on the (narrative of)” how long it takes to click, “” he said in a conference call with reporters on Friday, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. “We are all soccer players who have been doing this for a long time. (Dalton) and I arrived in 2011 and went 9-7, and we had no expectations.”

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“I have the impression that when you have choice # 1, and what we did in free agency and I came back, (Tyler Boyd) comes back, John (Ross), Tee (Higgins) and all these pieces that we have added defense, I think the level of talent that we have now is far different from what we had in 2011. “

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The 2011 Bengals included a receiving team of Green, Jerome Simpson, Andre Caldwell and tight end Jermaine Gresham; 1000 yard shredder Cedric Benson anchored the backfield and the defense included cornerback Reggie Nelson, nose tackle Domata Peko and second year standout defensive tackle Geno Atkins. Dalton, Green, Gresham and Atkins all made the Pro Bowl.

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The Bengals 2020, as Green mentioned, have a completely different composition. The future 32-year-old returns to a fast WR room that includes a 1000-yard receiver to Boyd, a potential flight from a second-round pick at Clemson’s Higgins and a motivated Ross who is due to injury after played eight games in 2019. Attacking half Joe Mixon is in the backfield. The defense will feature the still imposing Atkins – now in grade 11 – and the acquisitions of free agents Mackensie Alexander, Vonn Bell, DJ Reader and Trae Waynes. And, of course, the center will be the aforementioned Burrow, the 2019 Heisman Trophy winner and the star of national champion LSU Tigers.

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Burrow is one of the first players who hasn’t signed up yet, but it’s only a matter of time before the Bengals square it up for 2020 like they did recently with their best receiver. After missing the whole last season, Green is anxious to join the club and try to create magic with Burrow in the way that he and Dalton did almost a decade ago.

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“A lot of people don’t want the shifts to be so excited, but I have a feeling it will bring us the same energy it brought to the LSU,” he said. “I know the type of player he is. I know he’s a dog for a fact. I’m excited to play with him and can’t wait to go back.”

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