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Green guides Bengals back into playoff picture

By Carlos "Big C" Holmes
Dayton Daily News/Cox News Service

Bengals' A.J. Green epitomizes what the standard of an NFL receiver should be by letting his play prove his greatness. Cincinnati head coach Marvin Lewis has dealt with so many headache-inducing, prima donna wide receivers over the years that he could have done commercials for Advil.

Green is just the opposite. Big C logo

The second-year receiver brings professionalism and a non-confrontational attitude to a revitalized locker room. He's not a diva like some others and takes a businessman's approach to leading his teammates.

"My biggest thing is I lead by example," Green said during a one-on-one interview this week. "Our receiving corps is like brothers, and as I go they go. I'm just trying to make these young guys and myself better every day. One thing we don't have to worry about is young guys slacking because they all want to be great.

"This team is not about me. It's about us."

Green is also leading the league by example, putting up some robust stats this season. He's No. 1 in touchdown receptions with 10 and ranks fourth in receiving yards with 1,022. He has caught a touchdown pass in nine of the team's 11 games.

The Bengals (6-5) have bounced back from a four-game losing streak to win their last three. The team will be looking to keep the hot streak and playoff picture alive when they travel to San Diego to take on the Chargers (4-7) this weekend.

Cincinnati's offense has been built specially with Green in mind, but consistency and unity are the keys to success.

"We have to continue to practice hard and having that edge we have about us right now," Green said. "We've been practicing like they're game reps and jelling. We have to keep that consistency going by not turning the ball over and have all three phases of the game working. Our defense is playing lights out and the offense is looking to match that play."

San Diego's secondary will be under siege against Cincinnati's young receiving corps. Green fuels the engine but rookie wide receiver Mohamed Sanu is emerging as an integral part of the offense, coming off a two-touchdown performance against Oakland.

An endearing smile covered Green's face when speaking about Sanu and what he brings to the offense.

"Mo is one of the most dynamic players I've ever been around," he said. "We put him in the backfield, slot, x-receiver or whatever. He can do the job. That's the thing about him. You can't just key on him on one part of the field. You have to worry about him going to the backfield and catching swing routes.

"The biggest thing is he wants to be great. He does a lot of stuff, so it's great to have him on our team (laugh). He will be tough to match up with on Sunday."