NOVEMBER 25: The Bengals announced today that they have officially placed Burrow on injured reserve. In addition to placing their newest franchise quarterback on IR, the team filled his roster spot by activating fifth-round rookie running back Chase Brown off of IR. Brown made an appearance in five games before being placed on IR with a hamstring injury. He played extremely sparingly on offense, only tallying two carries and three receptions, but was a consistent presence on special teams.
The team also announced practice squad quarterback A.J. McCarron as Cincinnati’s only standard gameday elevation for tomorrow. With Burrow out, McCarron will be available to serve as Browning’s backup.
NOVEMBER 17: The carnage from Thursday night’s game will hit the Bengals as well. Following the news of Mark Andrews likely being done for the season, Zac Taylor announced Friday that Joe Burrow has suffered a torn thumb ligament.
Burrow will miss the rest of the season with the wrist injury, Taylor revealed Friday. This is a devastating blow for the Bengals, who have seen Burrow change their trajectory over the past four seasons. Burrow entered Thursday having not missed a game due to injury since his rookie-year ACL tear.
After playing through calf trouble early this season, Burrow had recovered. The Bengals’ fortunes reversed. The team won four straight, including victories over the 49ers and Bills, and had moved into a showdown with the Ravens. But Burrow arrived in Baltimore sporting a brace on his right wrist. The Bengals did not list their star quarterback on the Week 11 injury report, creating speculation the AFC North team was attempting to conceal a malady. As a result, ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter indicates the NFL is investigating the Bengals.
While putting two and two together points to Burrow having an issue coming into Thursday night’s matchup, Taylor adds (via NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo) the injury the fourth-year standout sustained is “completely unrelated” to the wrap he wore earlier in the day. When speaking publicly on the matter, Burrow confirmed as much (via ESPN’s Ben Baby). While attention around the league will turn to the league’s probe into the Bengals, Cincinnati will be forced to make a late run at the postseason with a major question mark under center.
Jake Browning, who took over for Burrow to close out last night’s contest, will assume starting duties for the rest of the season. The former UDFA had attempted one regular season pass in the NFL prior to Week 11, but he did enough in training camp and the preseason to earn a low-cost No. 2 job. Risk was incurred on the Bengals’ part by entrusting a relative unknown to serve as Burrow’s fill-in option, but Browning will now be tasked with leading the team toward a wild-card spot.
The Bengals entered Thursday’s loss ranked last in the league in rushing yards per game, so transitioning to a ground-heavy attack led by Joe Mixon may not offer a viable strategy. The team’s defense has delivered consecutive poor performances as well, so that unit will be hard-pressed to handle, in all likelihood, a larger workload with respect to having a role in victories down the stretch. Cincinnati sits at 5-5 on the year with an 0-3 record against the AFC North. A strong showing in the coming weeks will be needed for the team to remain in the hunt for what would now be considered an underdog postseason run.
Prior to the start of the 2023 season, Burrow inked a five-year, $275MM extension. That deal made him the latest in a line of young passers to land market-altering deals, and ensured his long-term future in Cincinnati. The 26-year-old will remain the foundation of the Bengals’ franchise for years to come, but today’s news will add another season-ending injury to his NFL career.
Adam La Rose contributed to this post.