A.J. Green enjoyed a terrific season opener against the Bears last Sunday afternoon. Cincinnati’s wide receiver looked to be in fine form when he hauled in nine passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns against Chicago’s vaunted defense.
Unfortunately for the Steelers’ defense, stopping the former Georgia Bulldog pass-catcher will be their chief responsibility when they take the field on Monday night in Cincinnati. According to Scott Brown of ESPN.com, the player who will be tasked with “shadowing” Green for much of the upcoming game will be veteran cornerback Ike Taylor.
Thankfully for the Steelers, this is not Taylor’s “first rodeo” against the talented wide receiver. In fact, Taylor and the rest of Pittsburgh’s secondary did a fine job of containing Green when the Steelers traveled to Cincinnati in Week 7 last fall. Although Green recorded a touchdown catch, that single reception for eight yards was the only one that the wide receiver hauled in on the night.
Like the elite player he is though, Green rebounded to have a stellar game against the Steelers in arguably the most important game of the Bengals’ season in Week 16.
With Taylor out of the lineup due to a leg injury and Keenan Lewis hobbled himself, Green completely abused Pittsburgh’s secondary to the tune of a season-high 10 catches for 116 yards. In fact, it was the pass-catchers key reception late in the fourth quarter that put the Bengals within range for the game winning field goal.
Even with “over-the-top” safety help, it will be Taylor’s responsibility to stick-and-stay with Green throughout the entire game. “Ginger Spice” Dalton knows who his most effective pass-catcher is, and I am sure that he saw the lack of pass-rush that Pittsburgh’s defense brought last weekend as well. Even with an effective veteran like Taylor on Green, Dalton would be wise to give his best play-maker as many chances as possible to burn the Steelers’ secondary.
Taylor has illustrated the ability to lock down some of the game’s most talented pass-catchers before, and I am sure that he is aware of the magnitude of his upcoming matchup against one of the best wide receivers in the game. If in fact Taylor can keep the talented Green contained and corralled on a consistent basis, then Pittsburgh’s defense could make things interesting on Monday night.
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