Tee Higgins challenging A.J. Green’s Bengals rookie receiving record

Tee Higgins, A.J. Green Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Tee Higgins, A.J. Green Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /

Tee Higgins is off to an outstanding start with a chance to break A.J. Green Bengals’ rookie record with 976 receiving yards.

Tee Higgins has 33 receptions for 488 yards and three touchdowns through the first eight games of the 2020 season. Higgins has a chance to challenge A.J. Green’s Bengals rookie record of 1.057 receiving yards in 2011. Higgins played in only 15 percent of the Bengals snaps in the season-opening 16-13 loss to the Chargers.

Higgins has played at least 57 percent of the snaps since with a minimum of 78 percent over the past four games which came in the Bengals 31-20 victory over Tennessee two weeks ago. Higgins was not targeted in the season opener. Higgins slowly began making an impact with three receptions for 35 yards in week two.

The top five rookie seasons for receiving yards for the Bengals are Green in 2011, Cris Collinsworth with 1,009 yards in 1989, Eddie Brown 942 in 1985, Darnay Scott 866 in 1984 and Isaac Curtis with 843 in 1973. Higgins would fall short of Green’s rookie total by doubling his season output.

After a slow start, Higgins is averaging 82.6 receiving yards over the past five games. If Higgins can continue at that pace he will finish the season with 1,148 receiving yards. Higgins has become the second option for quarterback and fellow rookie Joe Burrow in the Bengals passing game behind Tyler Boyd ahead of Green.

Boyd leads the Bengals with 68 targets, 54 receptions for 584 yards and is tied with Higgins with three touchdowns. Higgins has been targeted 52 times. Green has 63 targets with 31 receptions for 316 yards. With a rookie QB, the Bengals are second in passing attempts, 10th in passing yards, 24th in TDs and ninth in interceptions.

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The pace that Higgins is on bode well for the future teamed with Burrow poised to become one of the best QB-WR tandems in the NFL. Houston Oilers WR Bill Groman set the rookie receiving record with 1,473 yards in 1960. Groman led the AFL with 20.5 yards per reception, receiving yards and yards per game in 1960.