FOXBORO, Mass. — For the second straight week, the Patriots will be facing a top-5 wide receiver.
Julio Jones was the No. 1 concern last week when New England traveled to Atlanta. Now, in Week 5, the player taken two spots ahead of Jones in the 2011 NFL draft will be the Patriots’ biggest challenge.
A.J. Green is the top threat in the Bengals’ offense. Fortunately for New England, Cincinnati doesn’t have another top-tier receiver on the same level as Roddy White to challenge the other side of the field. So, the Patriots will likely be able to double team Green while receivers Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones and tight ends Tyler Eifert and Jermaine Gresham could be handled by one player.
Green and Julio Jones are both big, physical, fast receivers who are dangerous after the catch, precise in their routes and can leap up and challenge any defensive back. Aqib Talib didn’t want to compare the two players, though.
“I don’t compare him to nobody,” Talib said. “He A.J. Green. He bring his own stuff to the table. He has his own quarterback. He just different.”
Devin McCourty said the two receivers share many of the same strengths.
“They’re both great players,” McCourty said. “They both do a great job for their teams going up and getting the ball and making plays for them. They’re more similar than different. They do a great job of catching the ball and making plays.”
Green has 26 catches on 51 targets this season for 300 yards and three touchdowns. His best game of the season came in Cincinnati’s season opener against the Bears when he had nine catches on 13 targets for 162 yards and two scores.
“Speed, man,” Talib said about what stands out about Green. “Big catch radius. He can get down field and get that ball.”
McCourty said that Green’s length and speed were equally difficult to handle as a defensive back. McCourty will likely be busy in the back half of the field helping Talib and Alfonzo Dennard cover Green.
“Both,” McCourty said. “That’s what makes a receiver tough. Sometimes you have a bigger receiver that’s not as fast or a fast receiver that’s little, but when you combine both of those, I think that’s what makes him a good player.”
Talib says he has moved on from Jones and he’s ready to concentrate on the Bengals now. Talib could be assigned to shadow Green. Though, Talib and Dennard split Jones and White pretty evenly on Sunday night.
“Nah, Julio Jones was done at about 12 o’clock on Sunday,” Talib said. “Me personally, to be honest, I go home, I watch the tape, be up all night and before I go to sleep, next thing I watch is Cincinnati. I been off Atlanta. I been on Cincinnati since early Monday morning.”