Joe Burrow has a new contract in hand and the Bengals will not need to wait long to have him in the lineup after working out a record-setting extension. Head coach Zac Taylor confirmed on Friday that Burrow will play in the regular season opener.
That has been the expected decision after Burrow continued making progress from the calf strain he suffered in July. The team gave him a recovery timeline of “several weeks” upon diagnosing the injury, which left open the possibility of missed game action in September. However, the league’s newest top-paid player resumed throwing shortly thereafter and returned to practice last week.
Given those developments, it comes as little surprise that Burrow will be in place on Sunday despite the missed training camp reps. The former No. 1 pick said early this week that he expected to play in Week 1, though he added, via Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic, that the injury is one which he will have to manage (subscription required).
Burrow also said he is unsure of how long he will take to return to 100%, but his presence will be welcomed in Week 1 and throughout a season in which the Bengals are expected to be legitimate Super Bowl contenders. Cincinnati lost backup Brandon Allen in the offseason, and questions remain about who will emerge as the team’s new QB2; that competition is now between Jake Browning and recent practice squad addition Will Grier.
The Bengals will not be at full strength when they take the field against the Browns, however. Taylor ruled out edge rusher Joseph Ossai, who has been dealing with an ankle injury. The 2021 third-rounder missed his entire rookie campaign, and he will now begin his third NFL season on the injury list. Ossai missed only one game between the regular and postseason in 2022, though, logging a 32% snap share. A rotational role behind Trey Hendrickson and Sam Hubbard will await him upon return.