EDITOR’S NOTE: Throughout the 2012 NFL season, Cincinnati Bengals Pro Bowl receiver A.J. Green will be one of two gridiron stars blogging about life in the NFL for Made Man. From the locker room to the end zone to the postgame party, he’ll take us behind the scenes of America’s biggest spectator sport. Days before his team kicks off, this is his first post.
Wassup, people! How is everybody doing?
I’m playing in my first Monday Night Football game for the Bengals and it’s a big deal, I’m pumped! Everybody’s going to be watching it here in America and around the world. We’re going up against a great divisional rival in the Ravens—it’s going to be a challenge but we’re ready to roll.
When the ball is in the air, it’s mine, that’s how it is. Guys can talk smack all they want. I like to compete. Period.
So what can you guys expect from me this season?
I had a solid rookie season and was honored to make the Pro Bowl, but I’m looking to do bigger and better things in 2012! There’s no time to get complacent and rest on your laurels. I want to be great.
So in the offseason, I trained with Megatron, Calvin Johnson. Yeah, you know the guy, he’s like a freak. I had worked out with Calvin a little in 2011 as we have the same trainer, but this year I worked out with him every day. It was a great experience for me to be around a guy of his caliber, and see how he got to where he is now—one of the very best receivers in the league.
We were talking about some technical things like my release, about having patience coming off the line. Patience is one thing I wanted to work on—I have more time than I think—so we practiced working the DB off the line. I’m always trying to improve little things in my game heading into a new season.
I also put on about 10 more pounds and I’m up to 213-215. Megatron is like 235! But he told me he gained weight every year, and not to rush putting on the weight. As you get older, you get more comfortable with your body, so the weight comes naturally. The biggest thing he told me was to work hard and prove any doubters wrong—to use that as motivation.
Fans ask me if I have a mantra about playing. When the ball is in the air, it’s mine, that’s how it is. When the QB throws the ball it’s either I’m going to catch it or it’s going to be an incompletion. Those are the two options. I like to be aggressive. Guys can talk smack all they want. I like to compete. Period.
We went to the AFC Wild Card game last season, but as a team this season, we want to be more consistent, never get too complacent where we are, and bring it every game. With no lockout this offseason, I’m hoping there’ll be even more chemistry between QB Andy Dalton and our receiving group. We had time to sit down, watch tape from last year and work on some things—communicating with him more, telling him what I see during the game and vice versa. That’s the biggest thing, talking more.
I see my game as different than other receivers, but I do study other people, including Atlanta’s Julio Jones. Coming out the same year, we are always going to be compared. We’re good friends and I do watch him, always rooting for him to do well—he’s one of a great group of young receivers who are going to have a big year.
About this opening weekend, people ask about the replacement refs and whether they can keep up with the speed of the game and keep the players safe. We think about it, but I’m out there playing football and even when the regular refs are in, you can’t get too excited about what they’re calling. I got to play my game, be aggressive and deal with the calls as they come. So it doesn’t make a real difference. You can’t always control what happens to you, but you can control your response to it.
So get ready for Monday Night Football, we’re on a big stage and it’s on us to perform to a high level and entertain you fans.
Check me out on Twitter @ajgreen_18.
Lastly, Go Dawgs!!!
—As told to Ashley Jude Collie