CINCINNATI -- The Cincinnati Bengals' passing game took another big blow Sunday afternoon as Pro Bowl receiver A.J. Green did not return after suffering a toe injury early in the home opener against the Atlanta Falcons.
Green told ESPN's Bob Holtzman after Sunday's 24-10 Bengals win that the toe isn't broken and that he hopes to play next week. Bengals.com reported after the game that an MRI on Green's right foot came back negative. The website said the injury isn't believed to be serious, but that it could require Green to miss next week's game against the Titans.
Green, still in partial uniform, declined formal interviews in the locker room following the win. Despite being declared out in the first quarter following the injury that came on the first drive of the game, he remained in full uniform on the sideline. Teammates said he was continuing to encourage his fellow receivers and offering pointers to them based on what he was seeing from the sidelines.
The injury is believed to be an aggravation of a foot injury that had Green sidelined for part of last week's practices. He missed Thursday's practice with a foot injury and had been limited in Wednesday's practice with the same issue. He was a full participant in Friday's session and was listed as probable to play.
When Green came out during the Bengals' opening offensive drive, he originally had been declared questionable to return but was downgraded as the Bengals wrapped up their final drive of the opening quarter.
Green didn't contribute statistically to the opening quarter. It's the first time in his career he hasn't caught a pass in a game he appeared in. He caught six passes for 131 yards and the go-ahead touchdown in the Bengals' 23-16 win over Baltimore last week.
In that same game, tight end Tyler Eifert suffered a dislocated elbow. He was placed on short-term injured reserve earlier this week and will be eligible to return for the Bengals' Week 9 Thursday night game at home against the Browns.
Along with those injuries, the Bengals also have been missing receiver Marvin Jones, who suffered a foot injury during a preseason practice. He's expected to return for Week 5 at New England. Without Green, the Bengals turned to Brandon Tate, Mohamed Sanu and Dane Sanzenbacher in the passing game. Undrafted rookie free-agent tight end Ryan Hewitt also should see a little extra action along with Jermaine Gresham while Eifert, and now possibly Alex Smith, are out.
Green wasn't the only player the Bengals lost Sunday.
Cincinnati also lost linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who left the game with a stinger. It's the second straight week Burfict has left a game. He had a concussion last week at Baltimore, and missed considerable practice time as he underwent the concussion protocol. He cleared the protocol hours before the game.
In addition to Green and Burfict, the Bengals lost defensive tackle Brandon Thompson to a right knee injury, Smith to a left biceps injury, and right offensive guard Kevin Zeitler to a right calf injury. Zeitler, who hobbled out of the locker room on crutches, didn't want to discuss his injury after the game but expressed optimism in returning soon enough to have an impact later in the year.