CINCINNATI - Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis wasn’t guaranteeing A.J. Green would play Sunday against Jacksonville but he came as close as possible when it came to talking about the chances of the wide receiver seeing his first game action in four weeks. The same can’t be said about running back Giovani Bernard.
While Green practiced Friday on a limited basis for the third day in a row, Bernard was declared out against the Jaguars as he recovers from injuries to his ribs and clavicle. Bernard has not practiced this week as the Bengals prepare for the Jaguars. Whether or not he will be available for next Thursday’s home game against in-state and AFC North rival Cleveland remains in question.
"He’s been fighting through. Rest is going to be good for him," Lewis told reporters after Friday’s practice. "We’ll cross those (Thursday) bridges then."
Bernard has 625 all-purpose yards this season, including a team-high 446 yards rushing, and five touchdowns. Rookie Jeremy Hill is expected to get his first career start with backups Cedric Peerman and Rex Burkhead also getting snaps. Hill has gained 195 yards and scored three touchdowns on 50 carries this season.
Green has not played since Oct. 5 at New England when he caught five passes for 81 yards and a touchdown in a 43-17 loss. Green has been dealing with a turf toe issue since initially suffering the injury in the first quarter of the season opener at Baltimore. He missed the majority of the Week 2 game against Atlanta and then aggravated the injury at the start of practice on Oct. 8.
Green has 17 catches for 314 yards and two touchdowns this season. He is officially listed as questionable on the Bengals injury report, meaning he’s given a 50-50 chance of playing.
"We’ll see. He’s telling everybody he’s playing," said Lewis. "If everything stays the way it is, he’ll play. Yes."
The Bengals will also be without linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who was declared out earlier this week after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery on Wednesday. Burfict’s availability for the Cleveland game is also undetermined, although Lewis said on Wednesday that it would be "unlikely" that Burfict plays against the Browns.
Three players are listed as doubtful to play against Jacksonville: right guard Kevin Zeitler (calf), linebacker Rey Maualuga (hamstring) and rookie cornerback Darqueze Dennard (hamstring). Defensive tackle Brandon Thompson (knee) was given a rest day on Friday as he attempts to be ready to play for the first time since Week 2. He did have full participation in practice on Wednesday and Thursday. Thompson is listed as questionable.
The other six players on the injury report all had full practice participation Friday and are listed as probable: linebacker Jayson DiManche (shoulder), defensive end Carlos Dunlap (illness), cornerback Terence Newman (back), defensive tackle Domata Peko (toe), offensive lineman Mike Pollak (knee) and right tackle Andre Smith (knee). Pollak is expected to start at right guard in place of Zeitler.