Joe Burrow

Joe Burrow Will Not Be Placed On PUP List

Joe Burrow‘s recovery from a torn ACL and MCL (and related damage) in Week 11 of the 2020 season continues to go well. The Bengals’ QB participated in OTAs this spring, and the team has announced that Burrow will not open training camp on the PUP list. 

That means, of course, that Burrow will be leading his troops when camp opens on Tuesday, and he will seek to build upon what was a promising rookie campaign. Despite dealing with a porous offensive line, Burrow completed 65.3% of his passes for 13 touchdowns against five interceptions in his ten games last season.

This offseason, Cincinnati reunited Burrow with former LSU teammate Ja’Marr Chase, generally considered the top receiver in the Class of 2021. In Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd, Burrow has a loaded receiving corps to work with.

Hopefully, they’ve done enough to protect him up front as well. Free agent acquisition Riley Reiff should upgrade the right tackle slot, but while the Bengals drafted three rookie blockers — Jackson Carman, D’Ante Smith, and Trey Hill — they did not add much other proven talent. They did re-up Quinton Spain and recently claimed Lamont Gaillard off waivers from the Cardinals, so head coach Zac Taylor will at least have plenty of players to choose from in his search for a capable front five.

With quality protection for Burrow and running back Joe Mixon, the Bengals’ offense could be among the league’s best in 2021.

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Joe Burrow At Bengals OTAs

With each piece of good news, Bengals fans can continue to breathe a little easier. Last week we heard Joe Burrow was on track for Week 1, and now the second-year quarterback has taken another step in the right direction.

Burrow participated in the teams OTAs on Tuesday, as Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic tweets. You can check out a video of Burrow throwing a few passes and looking fairly strong on his surgically repaired knee courtesy of this tweet from James Rapien of SI Now. Burrow, of course, is coming off a significant injury that included ACL and MCL tears as well as some other damage.

Cincy is going to be cautious with their expected savior of the franchise, so the fact that he’s doing any work at all in May is a good sign that his recovery has gone as well as could be hoped for. After practice head coach Zac Taylor said “we are not pushing the envelope,” which means nobody is allowed within ten feet of Burrow, Dehner tweets.

Seriously. Any running backs running routes are motioned out wide to end up as far from Burrow as possible. No word yet on if the team will be layering him in bubble wrap for minicamp. For his part, Burrow said his knee is at “80-85 percent.”

As for his first Bengals passes to former LSU teammate Ja’Marr Chase, who Burrow reportedly had a role in drafting, he said “it was a little rusty at first but we got it back pretty quick.” The former Heisman winner also said he’d be wearing a knee brace, something he’s not a fan of, calling the process of picking one finding the “lesser of the evils.”

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North Notes: Chase, Steelers, Vikings

The Bengals encountered some scrutiny for passing on Penei Sewell to take Ja’Marr Chase at No. 5, given their issues on the offensive line. But the Chase-over-Sewell stance formed weeks ahead of the draft. Bengals brass went to Joe Burrow for a detailed opinion on this matter. Chase having played a key part in Burrow winning the 2019 Heisman Trophy, and Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com notes the second-year quarterback gave his ex-LSU teammate a strong endorsement. Chase-to-Cincinnati gained considerable steam ahead of the draft, and the Bengals followed through with the move to add the impact receiver prospect to a wideout group that includes Tyler Boyd and 2020 second-rounder Tee Higgins. The Bengals viewed Chase as the kind of talent too good to pass up, Fowler adds. The Bengals drafted offensive linemen in the second, fourth and sixth rounds, with Jackson Carman — whom the team selected after trading down eight spots — being the most notable of these additions.

Here is the latest from the North divisions:

  • Continuing recent tradition, the Raiders surprised draft viewers with their first-round pick. The Jon GrudenMike Mayock regime chose Alex Leatherwood 17th overall. The Alabama tackle was viewed by most as a major reach; Scouts Inc. rated him as this draft’s 60th-best prospect. The Raiders may have been leery of two teams eyeing Leatherwood in the back half of Round 1, however. The Steelers and Vikings had Leatherwood on their respective radars, per Fowler. The Vikings drafted Virginia Tech’s Christian Darrisaw (Scouts Inc.’s No. 20 overall prospect) at No. 23. Pittsburgh preferred him to most of the draft’s second-tier tackles, but the team appeared locked in on ex-Leatherwood teammate Najee Harris at No. 24. Leatherwood is expected to work as a right tackle in Las Vegas.
  • Although the Steelers’ depth chart has the look of one that would benefit from a veteran tackle addition, they do not appear to be eyeing one in the post-draft period of free agency. Despite Alejandro Villanueva defecting to the Ravens and the Steelers not drafting a tackle before Round 4, the team likes its left tackle setup, Mark Kaboly of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Pittsburgh lost three O-line starters — Villanueva, Maurkice Pouncey and Matt Feiler — this offseason and is planning to move right tackle Chukwuma Okorafor to the left side. Pro Football Focus viewed Okorafor as one of the league’s worst tackles in 2020, grading him 70th at the position. Okorafor spent the 2018 and ’19 seasons as a backup, moving into the Steelers’ starting lineup after Zach Banner‘s Week 1 ACL tear. Banner has re-signed and is expected to compete for the right tackle job.
  • Thanks to the Lions’ $13.5MM-per-year extension for Frank Ragnow, the NFL has a new highest-paid center.
  • The Bears did not become aggressive in their effort to trade up for Justin Fields until draft day, when they identified a few teams as trade-down candidates and engaged in negotiations.

Bengals’ Joe Burrow On Track For Week 1

Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow is on track to suit up for the season opener. The former No. 1 overall pick is “all systems go” for Sept. 12 against the Vikings, per Dr. Neal ElAttrache (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter). 

That’s welcome news for the second-year quarterback who is returning from severe knee injuries suffered in late November. The damage, which included ACL and MCL tears, put Burrow in a nine-month rehab program.

I’m very optimistic about where I’m at and also where the team’s at,” Burrow said back in April (via ESPN.com’s Ben Baby). “Rehab is going very, very well. Lifting is going very, very well. I’m in great shape. Legs feel good. Knee feels goodThere’s still opportunities for setbacks. But the way I’m feeling right now, I’m very optimistic that I’ll be ready Game 1.”

The former Heisman Trophy winner finished his injury-shorted season with 2,688 yards, 13 touchdowns, and just five interceptions through nine-plus games. Burrow did it all in spite of his patchwork offensive line — Bengals coaches say they’ll do a better job of protecting him this year.

The Bengals re-signed Brandon Allen this offseason, but the hope is that he’ll be holding the clipboard throughout 2021. Beyond Allen, the Bengals also have Kyle Shurmur, Collin Hill, and Eric Dungey on the offseason roster.

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Bengals Expect Week 1 Joe Burrow Return

During a recent interview, Joe Burrow expressed optimism he would be ready to return by the start of the regular season. The second-year quarterback is attempting to make his way back from severe knee injuries sustained in late November.

The Bengals are also optimistic their franchise centerpiece can complete his recovery from ACL and MCL tears, along with other knee damage, by Week 1. Player personnel director Duke Tobin said Wednesday he expects Burrow to be ready when the Bengals open their season, via The Athletic’s Paul Dehner Jr. (on Twitter).

Appearing on the Cris Collinsworth Podcast featuring Richard Sherman, Burrow said he is ahead of schedule on the approximate nine-month rehab process. While it cannot be assumed the 2020 No. 1 overall pick will participate fully in training camp or take any snaps during Cincinnati’s preseason slate, a Burrow Week 1 return would be a positive development after these injuries sidetracked his strong rookie season.

I’m very optimistic about where I’m at and also where the team’s at,” Burrow said during the podcast, via ESPN.com’s Ben Baby. “Rehab is going very, very well. Lifting is going very, very well. I’m in great shape. Legs feel good. Knee feels good.

… It’s about a nine-month recovery process. So there’s still a long way to go. There’s still opportunities for setbacks. But the way I’m feeling right now, I’m very optimistic that I’ll be ready Game 1.”

Previously during Burrow’s rehab odyssey, he faced the prospect of being out well into the regular season. But throughout 2021, the former Heisman-winning passer’s timeline has pointed to Week 1. The Bengals re-signed Brandon Allen this offseason. The longtime NFL backup/third-stringer would seemingly be tabbed to start the season, should Burrow’s return goal prove too ambitious.

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Bengals Targeting Ja’Marr Chase?

The Bengals are “targeting” wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, Tyler Dragon of The Enquirer hears (Twitter link). With the No. 5 overall pick, the Bengals may be able to reunite the LSU star with his old quarterback, Joe Burrow.

[RELATED: Bengals Release Giovani Bernard]

Cincinnati has invested a first- or second-round pick in the wide receiver position in three of the past five years. Still, they’re moving ahead without A.J. Green and John Ross, so Chase would be a welcome addition to the offense. Meanwhile, Burrow has reportedly stumped for a reunion with Chase, who went off for 84 catches, 1,780 yards, and 20 touchdowns last time they played together in 2019.

The Bengals figure to have lots of options available at No. 5 — particularly if the Falcons draft a quarterback at No. 4. In a worst-case scenario, only one of this year’s top non-QBs will be there for the taking. In a best-case scenario, Chase, Oregon tackle Penei Sewell, and Florida tight end Kyle Pitts will all be available. From the latest rumblings, it sounds like Chase would be their choice.

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Latest On Bengals’ Draft Plans

Three quarterbacks will almost certainly go off the board to start this year’s draft, marking the first time in 22 years that will have taken place. The Falcons are undecided on whether they should acquire Matt Ryan‘s heir apparent at No. 4. This puts the Bengals in position to land perhaps this draft’s top non-quarterback.

Picking fifth without a quarterback need, the Bengals will have a bevy of high-end offensive prospects from which to choose. Considering the issues they have had on their offensive line in recent years, they have been linked to Oregon tackle Penei Sewell. Zac Taylor, player personnel director Duke Tobin and offensive line coach Frank Pollack were in Eugene, Ore., for Sewell’s pro day, Tyler Dragon of the Cincinnati Enquirer tweets. Pollack told attendees Sewell impressed him, Tony Pauline of ProFootballNetwork.com tweets.

Sewell would make sense as a player who could be a long-term starter opposite left tackle Jonah Williams, but Tobin said the Bengals can acquire a starter-caliber lineman on the draft’s second night. Cincinnati has starter grades on O-linemen projected to go in the second and third rounds, Tobin said during a podcast with Bengals announcer Dan Hoard (Twitter link). Tobin added that the addition of veteran tackle Riley Reiff gives the team a better O-line outlook than it had in 2020 (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Ben Baby).

Needs exist on the interior of Cincinnati’s O-line, and Tobin said more additions will take place. But the veteran executive understandably is not giving off the vibe the team must add an impact blocker early.

The Bengals also do not want to trade too far down from No. 5; they might not be interested in moving down at all. A best-player-available pick may suit the Bengals, who have included Joe Burrow in their pre-draft process, Tobin more or less confirmed (via Baby, on Twitter). Burrow has stumped for a Ja’Marr Chase reunion, according to Albert Breer of SI.com. The Eagles may well expect this to be the direction the Bengals go, with Breer noting Philly believes there is a good chance Cincy drafts Chase at No. 5. Possessing a greater receiver need than the Bengals do, the Eagles traded down from from No. 6 to No. 12 late last month.

The Bengals did not re-sign either of the top-10 receiver picks on last year’s roster — A.J. Green and John Ross — but have invested a first- or second-round pick in a wideout in three of the past five drafts. Chase opted out of his junior season but exploded for 84 receptions, 1,780 yards and 20 touchdown catches during Burrow’s Heisman-winning 2019. He and Burrow played together at LSU for two seasons.

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Joe Burrow Expects To Be Ready For Week 1 Of 2021 Season

The Bengals ended the 2020 campaign on a sour note, a 38-3 blowout loss to the division-rival Ravens. Despite the defeat and the team’s 4-11-1 record, there were some bright spots, most notably the performance of rookie signal-caller Joe Burrow.

Burrow suffered a torn ACL and MCL in Cincinnati’s Week 11 loss to Washington, and he also sustained damage to his meniscus and PCL. Despite the gravity of the injury, Burrow expects to be ready for Week 1 of the 2021 season, as Ben Baby of ESPN.com details.

Speaking to the media for the first time since the injury, Burrow — who underwent surgery on December 2 — says he is past the worst part of his rehab. When asked about his prospects for the start of next season, the 24-year-old passer said, “I think I’ll be ready. I think it’ll be just fine.”

That’s obviously good news for Bengals fans, who are hoping their club can return to competitiveness in a talented AFC North. Reports from November indicated that Burrow was expected to return to action “right around” the start of the 2021 season, but given the extensiveness of the knee damage, there will continue to be concern about Burrow’s availability until he puts on the pads.

With a healthy Burrow in the fold, there is reason for optimism in the Queen City. The former LSU standout, along with RB Joe Mixon and wideouts Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd, represent a strong core of skill-position talent, and full seasons from defensive players like D.J. Reader and Trae Waynes would also be a big help. There is still plenty of work to do along the offensive line and in the front seven, but there is at least a foundation to build upon.

There were some rumors that head coach Zac Taylor may not be given the chance to return for a third year at the helm, but team president Mike Brown quickly put an end to those rumblings earlier this week. Burrow, for one, is happy to see his HC return.

“I think Zac is going to be a great coach for a long time,” he said. “I’m happy to be in the position that I’m in and to help build this organization, but it’s going to be on Zac’s back. He’s the leader of what we’re trying to do, and he’s awesome.”

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Bengals Likely To Keep Zac Taylor For 2021?

Although Zac Taylor‘s 4-23-1 record as Bengals head coach represents one of the worst all-time marks for a coach to start his career, he may not be in jeopardy of losing his job.

Not much buzz has emerged about Taylor being on the hot seat, according to Jeremy Fowler and Dan Graziano of ESPN.com. Unsurprisingly, Joe Burrow looms at the center of this discussion.

Rumors prior to the Bengals using the No. 1 overall pick centered around the Ohio native being uncertain about the Cincinnati franchise. Despite the severe knee injury the former LSU superstar suffered, Burrow has expressed fondness for his Bengals situation and the franchise’s future, per Fowler and Graziano.

It also does not hurt the Bengals are known for their patience. This was best displayed through Marvin Lewis lasting 16 years as Cincinnati’s head coach without winning a playoff game and David Shula winning 19 games in four-plus seasons. However, the Bengals did fire Dick LeBeau after two-plus seasons, bringing in Lewis. Should Taylor earn a third season, it would stand to reason his seat would be scorching-hot come 2021.

Burrow’s 10-game QBR figure ranks 24th, and the 2019 Heisman winner was in the running for Offensive Rookie of the Year prior to going down. The Bengals, however, have ranked 30th and 29th in points scored under Taylor, who came to Cincinnati with limited play-calling experience. And among coaches who have coached since the 2019 season, Taylor’s four wins rank last. But he may benefit from multiple factors and receive a third year.

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North Notes: Bevell, Lewis, Ravens, Browns

The first Lions interim head coach in 15 years, Darrell Bevell will have five games to run the team. While it should be expected the Lions go in a different direction when they make a full-time hire in 2021, Bevell said team president Rod Wood informed him he is not out of the picture for the permanent gig, per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (on Twitter). Although Bevell was a Matt Patricia hire, the former Seahawks offensive coordinator did not join the Lions until Patricia’s second season. Prior to Bevell spending seven seasons as Seattle’s OC, he oversaw the Vikings’ Brett Favre offenses and held that job for five seasons. His latest offense ranks 20th, though it has been without Kenny Golladay for a big chunk of the season.

Here is the latest from the North divisions:

  • Mike Zimmer replaced defensive coordinator George Edwards by dividing the DC duties between his son (Adam Zimmer) and Andre Patterson. But the Vikings HC wanted a more experienced hand in the room, even before Edwards’ exit. Prior to Edwards’ 2020 departure, Mike Zimmer wanted to hire his former boss — ex-Bengals HC Marvin Lewis — as a defensive assistant, Dan Pompei of The Athletic notes (subscription required). This interest came in 2019, and Zimmer sought Lewis for a part-time role, Pompei adds. Lewis ended up on Herm Edwards‘ Arizona State staff, in an advisory role, last year and is now the Sun Devils’ co-defensive coordinator.
  • Robert Griffin III indeed suffered a hamstring pull in the Ravens‘ Wednesday loss to the Steelers, per Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic. He is not expected to practice when Baltimore reconvenes for workouts. The earliest Lamar Jackson could practice would be Sunday, which would give the Ravens starter one full practice and a Monday walkthrough in advance of a Tuesday return against the Cowboys. It is not known if Jackson will be ready by then, but he will be eligible to return after testing positive for the coronavirus on Nov. 26.
  • The Browns will not have one of their starters for a while. They placed Ronnie Harrison on IR this week, and Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com notes the third-year safety’s shoulder injury is expected to keep him out between four and six weeks. This is a big setback for the Browns; Pro Football Focus slots Harrison as its 12th-highest-graded safety this season. Cleveland’s secondary is already down Denzel Ward, who is rehabbing a calf strain.
  • Joe Burrow underwent surgery on his injured knee Wednesday, the Bengals announced in a brief statement. The No. 1 overall pick suffered ACL and MCL tears as well as other structural damage. He is not expected to be ready to return until around the start of next season.
  • Seeking kicker insurance in the COVID-19 era, the Packers worked out Roberto Aguayo, Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com notes. The Packers, who have used Mason Crosby as their kicker since 2007, do not have a kicker on their practice squad currently. Aguayo has not caught on with a team since the Chargers cut him in 2018; the former second-round pick has not kicked in a game since his 2016 rookie season.