When Cleveland Browns defensive back
And for 60 minutes, Haden knows he is going to get the best from Green, and plans to return the favor.
“If you want to be the best, you’ve got to go against the best,” Haden said. “I always say that, but with trying to become the player I want to be, going against somebody of that caliber is a really good contest, a really good matchup. I like it a lot.
“With certain players, it’s not even talk. It’s a respect. You’ve got to get yours. You’re going to be hyped. It’s going to be in-your-face. If he catches a ball, he’s going to do the first-down thing, but it’s all respect. It’s just two at the top of their games just trying to go get the best of the other one. It’s no disrespect. After the game, we’ll hug it up, but during the game, I’m pushing him down, trying to throw him on the ground. He’s trying to pull me by. You’re going to get into it, for sure.”
For Haden, his rivalry with Green started long before the two were drafted by their respective teams. When Haden was at the University of Florida, Green was setting the tone for the University of Georgia offense, and it did not take long for the Gators’ defensive back to realize the talent that he was lining up against.
“He’s just an all-around, overall, really good receiver,” Haden said. “He can do everything that you want a receiver to be able to do: go up and get the ball, and with him and (Andy) Dalton coming in together, they have a really good chemistry and he trusts him. If you’ve got your quarterback to trust you, he’ll throw up a jump ball to him. If there’s ever a situation he really needs, you know he’s going to go to 18. He’s tall, fast, runs really good routes, can go up and get the ball. He’s just one of the best. I think he’s one of the best receivers I’ve ever played against since I’ve been in the league.
“He’s better than those other receivers. He’s one of the good ones. He’s one of those special dudes that doesn’t come along too much. There’s not too many A.J.s in the league. You just can’t put too many people up there.”
Green leads the Bengals with 19 receptions for 249 yards and three touchdowns this season. In his career, Green has been on the receiving end of 181 career receptions for 2,656 yards, and had a streak of nine straight games with at least one touchdown catch during the 2012 regular season.
But while statistics are important, at the end of the day, Haden cares about the kind of respect that comes with winning.
“You’re not scared,” Haden said. “They have to play in front of us too. It’s not all about what they’re doing. It’s about what we’re going to do to them. We’ve got to come out and be aggressive and just put hits on people. It’s going to be a really good, intense matchup.
“It’s going to be a battle, and you have to know that sometimes, they might get theirs, but you just have to be able to get yours a whole lot more. As long as I have more wins than he does, it’ll be cool. If he has a touchdown and I have no picks and a win, I’ll take that every day.”