Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 5/17/12

CINCINNATI -- With as much as A.J. Green and Andy Dalton accomplished their first year in the NFL, they might be even better in year two.

During the Bengals' offseason conditioning program, coaches have been impressed with the strides both players have made not just in grasping the offense but in showing their leadership.

"They've grown and experienced a lot. They're not the wide-eyed rookies anymore," head coach Marvin Lewis said.

Green remains soft-spoken and doesn't say a lot, but other receivers and coaches have said that Green is in incredible shape and has come back even more determined. Last season Green became the first rookie receiver in eight seasons to make the Pro Bowl as he had 65 receptions for 1,057 yards and seven touchdowns.

If he can reach 1,000 receiving yards again, Green would become the first receiver since Marques Colston to do so in his first two seasons in the league.

Said receivers coach James Urban of Green: "I'm very happy with A.J.'s approach to the offseason. I'm very pleased with what he has done physically. He looks great and he's taken that role as a leader. There's no doubt he has control of that group."

Lewis has called the receivers room Green's room and has gone as far as to say it is also his offense. That might be a little bit of a stretch before you consider that the Bengals were 5-2 in games where Green scored a touchdown.

For Dalton, his big moment to exhale came at the end of last season. Without any added pressure this offseason, the only things Dalton has had to focus on was honing his footwork and expanding his knowledge of the evolving playbook.

Even Lewis admitted that Dalton did not come into the ideal situation last year, saying that the situation had some tension built into it because of Carson Palmer's "retirement". Once Palmer was traded though in Week 7, that tension was replaced by trying to lead the Bengals into the playoffs.

"Going to the playoffs is a great accomplishment but he led a team which is bigger," Lewis said. "He's been through a lot, from the perception of being passed over in the draft to having the opportunity to be the starter from the opening day of training camp."

During free agency and the draft, the goal has been giving Dalton and Green more tools. They significantly upgraded the guard position, which should help jump start the running game, and added running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who excelled in short yardage and red zone situations. The Bengals are hoping to diversify what Green-Ellis can do by putting him in more receiving situations out of the backfield.

With teams expected to double team Green, the third-round selection of Mohamed Sanu and the return of Jordan Shipley, who missed most of last season with a knee injury, should give Dalton more options.

Said Dalton: "I'm excited for everyone to get out there and throwing. We've got a good group. It is going to be a lot of competition out there."

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