EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Cincinnati Bengals receiver A.J. Green was on the New York Giants' radar long before opening his mouth.
The NFL's co-leader in touchdown receptions, Green created some controversy for Sunday's game in Cincinnati on Thursday in a radio interview with WFAN in New York City, saying there are areas to exploit in the Giants' defense.
"I feel like they've got a lot of holes in their defense," Green said.
There is some truth to Green's comment.
New York has given up 15 pass plays of 30 yards or more and 38 passes of 20 or more. Nine of the 38 plays have been for touchdowns, including a game-changing 51-yarder by Mike Wallace in the fourth quarter that sparked the Pittsburgh Steelers' 24-20 comeback win over the Giants (6-3) last weekend.
Green had praised the play of the Giants' defensive line before making his comment about holes in the defense, which obviously was a reference to the secondary.
Safety Antrel Rolle and his fellow defensive backs were reluctant to verbally strike back at Green, who is sixth in the NFL with 735 yards receiving and is tied for seventh in receptions (51). His eight TD catches share the league lead with James Jones of the Packers.
"You don't worry about it," Rolle said of Green's comments. "I'm a deep safety. I'm going to play my responsibility and if I get a chance, I'm coming across. He's a great receiver, though. You can't take anything from A.J. Green. He's a great receiver and I think definitely the best player on the offensive side of the ball. He makes a number of plays for them and I think his relationship with (quarterback Andy) Dalton is something special. The game has to be played on Sunday and we'll play it."
As much as he was pressed, Rolle would not say anything derogatory about Green or the Bengals' offense.
"I'll let my pads do the talking on Sunday. That's how I approach the game," Rolle said. "That's how we approach the game, and if he sees me, he better duck."
Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell wasn't shocked that Green would think there are holes in the defense. He said every defense has holes in it, and so does every offense.
"You know I really don't listen to the comments that guys like that make," Fewell said. "You know, talk is cheap, you play the game."
Fewell admitted there have been lapses in the secondary. Two weeks ago against Dallas, a miscommunication between cornerback Corey Webster and a safety led to a long play and last week Wallace turned a short slant into a touchdown by literally outrunning four defenders.
Second-year cornerback Prince Amukamara said he hasn't kept a count on how many big plays the Giants have given up, but he feels offenses aren't beating the secondary over the top. It's more that they have turned short passes into big gains.
Green is that type of receiver: he's explosive, has great speed, good hands and is aggressive in going up and getting the ball.