A.J. Green has made receiving look easy over his first six years in the NFL. But last year an injury cut his season short. Here’s how picking up boxing is preparing him for his biggest year yet.
Float like a butterfly, sting like A.J. Green.
Coming back from an injury-shortened 2016 has lit a fire in the belly of Bengals receiver A.J. Green. And his desire to come back bigger, faster and stronger is burning hotter than ever.
Last year before the hamstring injury shelved him for the season, Green was on pace for 1,800 yards. While those projections would have been career highs, Green knows they were inflated because of injuries to other Bengals players.
One thing that isn’t a projection is the fact that Green continues to get better every year he’s in the league.
The big reason for his continual progression is how he trains in the off-season. Green has been pushing to return to Bengals training camp this July in the best shape of his life. That’s why he’s adopted the sweet science to push his training over the edge.
Green posted this video on his Instagram near the end of June and it clearly shows he’s hungrier than ever and using boxing as a way to get into the best shape of his life.
C’mon Man: You Can’t Jam A.J. Green
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Green’s a natural athlete, who I’m certain the six-time Pro Bowler could play any sport he wishes. But for now, Bengals Nation is thankful he’s suiting up for the Orange and Black.
His punching power on his right cross is insane. And personally, I wouldn’t want to be standing on the receiving end of those punches. His trainer, Ben Creamer, said boxing adds another tool for Green on the field this year.
"“It’s great cardio and it’s low impact. No stress on the knees or back,” Creamer said to Bengals.com. “It’s a lot more fun than jumping on the elliptical for 20 minutes and it helps in football. For a receiver it’s understanding time and space to fight off the jam at the line.”"
And let me tell you, if opposing corners are looking to try to go toe-to-toe with the 6-foot-4-inch Green, jamming him isn’t work.
Green said he hasn’t boxed in over a decade and the last time he did he was just 10 years old. He said he didn’t like being hit. However, it’s clear things have changed for Green, who looks like he could be the next big thing with a little formal training.
A.J. is a humble perfectionist, who doesn’t like to brag despite his natural ability to make anything athletic look easy. Big No. 18 actually didn’t want to post the video to Instagram until his form looked better. But I’d say it looks just fine.
A.J. Green’s Training for the 4th Quarter
Green has voiced several times that this Bengals team is poised to make a run at the Super Bowl. And the Georgia product knows that boxing is going to pay dividends in the waning moments of games when most players are huffing and puffing.
"“It will help my freaking fatigue in the fourth quarter,” Green said, later adding how boxing helps mentally as well: “You’re tired and you’re trying to remember the combos,” Green said. “You have to stay sharp mentally even when you’re tired.”"
Having increased cardio endurance will undoubtedly allow Green more opportunity to dominate this season. And while all the hype in the sport of boxing is revolving around the upcoming Mayweather vs. McGregor fight, I’m more interested in how Green is punching his way into form as the NFL’s best receiver.
Here’s to a knockout 2017.