A.J. Green returns to practice for Bengals

CINCINNATI -- A.J. Green participated in the Cincinnati Bengals' practice Wednesday afternoon, fulfilling comments he made to ESPN's Bob Holtzman after Sunday's game.

It was the first time the Pro Bowler practiced in nearly a month.

"I feel good," Green said after practice. "We're going to do a little bit [Thursday] and see how it goes."

It appears more promising he will play Sunday. If he does, don't expect Green to cut short any snap opportunities this week against Jacksonville in favor of getting more healthy for next Thursday's quick turnaround against Cleveland.

"I'm not going to take any kind of approach," Green said. "I'm just going to play as hard as I can and see what happens."

During the open portion of Wednesday's workouts, Green went through position-specific drills with other receivers and went through a series of routes. He didn't seem to favor the right big toe injury that has bugged him since the season opener.

His last Wednesday workout didn't go well. Minutes after the Bengals stopped stretching in their first practice the week Carolina visited in Week 6, he threw down his helmet and slammed his right shoe to the turf before getting on a cart and riding back into the stadium. He had aggravated the toe injury.

A day later, Green saw a foot specialist in Cincinnati who prescribed him to avoid playing for two weeks. Seven days after that evaluation, he traveled to North Carolina to another foot specialist who told him the same thing.

As a result, Green has missed the last three games. In his place, third-year wideout Mohamed Sanu has emerged. The player who was slated to be Cincinnati's third receiver entering the season has caught 21 passes for 383 yards and a touchdown in the three-plus games Green has missed. In addition to the three recent contests he didn't play, Green also was sidelined for all but six plays of the Bengals' Week 2 win over Atlanta.

Green has been told to expect playing with a measure of pain the rest of the season. At this point, it's about managing that pain and figuring out ways to protect his foot to give him adequate relief while playing through the ailment.

With respect to stabilizing the toe when he plays, Green said he wasn't changing anything. He said trainers may tape his foot up a little different, but otherwise he wasn't going to wear different shoes or place inserts in his shoes for additional cushioning. A report last week indicated he might be getting new specially made cleats from Nike.

It's been a difficult few weeks waiting for the effects of the injury to subside. Green has been wanting to get back on the field from the moment he left practice four Wednesdays ago.

"In the back of my mind it's like that, but I've got to take care of my body," he said. "I've got a long career ahead of me and I don't want anything lingering on and be something serious when I could have just rested and made it feel better."

In addition to Green, injured right offensive guard Kevin Zeitler (calf) and linebacker Rey Maualuga didn't practice but were part of rehab and conditioning drills on the side of the Bengals' practice fields. It's the first time Maualuga has been able to work out during practice since suffering a nasty left hamstring injury in the fourth quarter of the tie with the Panthers three weeks ago.

Tight end Tyler Eifert also didn't practice, although he is eligible after ending his stint on the short-term injured reserve last week. He dislocated his right elbow diving for extra yards in the season opener. Running back Giovani Bernard wasn't even at practice after suffering a right hip injury Sunday.