Undrafted rookie Damion Willis to start in place of A.J. Green

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The Bengals won’t have wide receiver A.J. Green in the lineup for the first week of the regular season and they named the player who will be taking his place in the lineup on Sunday.

Rookie head coach Zac Taylor tabbed undrafted rookie Damion Willis will take Green’s spot in the starting lineup against the Seahawks on September 8. Green is out with an ankle injury suffered at the start of training camp.

“I’m just finding out,” Willis said, via the team’s website. “I’m going to wait to Saturday to celebrate.”

Saturday is the day the Bengals and the other 31 teams in the league will get down to 53 players, although Willis has less to worry about than most undrafted players. Willis had 98 catches for 1,496 yards and 13 touchdowns at Troy over the last two seasons and he’s caught nine passes for 118 yards and a touchdown in the preseason.

Taylor also announced that Trey Hopkins will start at center and fourth-round pick Michael Jordan will start at left guard. That means 2018 first-round pick Billy Price will open his second season on the bench after starting all 10 games he played as a rookie.

17 responses to “Undrafted rookie Damion Willis to start in place of A.J. Green

  1. Normally they will need AJ against the Legion of Boom, but the Legion is gone with the wind, and frankly my dear, I don’t give a hoot who starts at WR for the Bangles. Beat Seattle!

  2. Willis has looked amazing this preseason, glad to see him jot only make the team but earn a starting spot.

    As both a Bengals and Buckeye fan, it stings to see Proce, our 1st rd pick from last year, not start. But I am encouraged that Taylor is playing the players that have earned it and jot have blind loyalty to veterans like Marvin did.

    Change of culture and attitude was needed, even if it means sitting our 1st rd pick. I like it.

  3. This is refreshing to see that Taylor is establishing a new culture in Cincinnati. One in which veterans are not just handed a starting job based on seniority like with Marvin, but one in which all players will have an equal shot at playing. Hopkins deserved to start at center because he outplayed Price in preseason and Willis outplayed the other wide receivers fighting for a spot on the team with a solid preseason. I am excited to see how this will continue to play out throughout Taylor’s regime. Who Dey

  4. Personally I think Price deserves to start. Maybe that’s why I’m not an NFL coach lol

  5. Really happy for Damion. He came in undrafted and won a starting job. Hopkins starting at Center I do not understand.

  6. Love that Taylor is so different than Marvin. Earn it and you start. That’s it. Players will buy into that too. Bengals may not be great this year but I have to think Taylor has some successful years coming. I’m excited to watch them for the first time in a few years. Best part is not having to watch Marvin giggle after a loss.

  7. I personally thought it was a better fit for Hopkins at center and Price at RG. But if the coaches think John Miller beat out Price for RG I’m fine with it. It’s refreshing to see that kind of thing where guys aren’t handed things just because they’ve been around for a certain amount of time. I think Taylor has a fresh mindset that the team needs. I think most fans understand this is a rebuilding year and with bad timing on Jonah’s injury and AJs the expectations are pretty low. I think they’re about the same record as last year 6 wins maybe 7 but this is about establishing Taylor and his staff. If you can’t win with Dalton either draft someone this year or let him play out his contract next season and draft someone when he’s up. Unless a deep playoff run happens in the next 2 seasons Bengals would be digging themselves a hole if they gave Dalton 30 mil a year. He is what he is at this point probably in that Kirk Cousins class of qbs that’s just ok.

  8. That’s a hot take article title. Maybe a little click bait-ish… to be clear Green is hurt, so he wouldn’t be starting regardless. Heading makes it sound like UDFA snatched his job. Willis played well and earned a spot backing up green, perhaps should have been the heading. Price played sub par so Hopkins is supplanting, rightfully so. Taylor is allowing best players play – novel thinking long overdue.

  9. Nice guy — never parks in handicap spots, kind to animals and recycles. But he ain’t AJ Green.

  10. Price was slowed by injuries to his foot. Price will probably be starting by mid season. The difference between Taylor and Lewis is that Taylor believes the players that play the best in practice will play in games.
    Experience means less that performance. It’s nice to see young players, that earn a chance, playing.

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