For everyone in the league, it’s been a long time since they’ve last stepped foot on the practice field of an NFL team. By now, we would have typically gone through rookie minicamp, OTAs, and then mandatory minicamp, for about 15-16 days’ worth of work on the field in all. And players would have voluntarily been in the facilities this whole time.
This offseason has been very different, for every obvious reasons. There’s still a pandemic going on, after all, and in fact, it’s going strong. We hit another sad landmark yesterday, the first time since early June in which the nation has seen 1000 deaths or more on consecutive days—with roughly 140,000 new combined cases during that time as well.
It is under these conditions that NFL players have been barred from entering team facilities, and have even been discouraged from working in groups on their own, outside of the control of their respective teams. Some have complied, while many haven’t.
The lack of opportunity to get standard work in affects everybody, but it will hit rookies the hardest. Take Joe Burrow, for example. The first-overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, he has already seen his team, the Cincinnati Bengals, commit to him as the day-one starter after they released Andy Dalton.
In spite of the fact that he hasn’t even gotten to work with him yet, however, veteran wide receiver A.J. Green has every confidence in the young quarterback out of LSU. “I know the type of player he is”, he insisted, via the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I know he’s a dog for a fact. I’m excited to play with him and I can’t wait to get back out there”.
Burrow was a late riser in college, but is coming off of one of the all-time great college football seasons. During his senior season, he completed 402 of 527 passes for 5671 yards and 60 touchdowns with a 202.0 quarterback rating (six interceptions) as they ran the table all the way across the finish line, culminating in a national championship win.
Green wouldn’t buy into the idea that Burrow needs a lot of time, likening the situation, fittingly, to his own rookie season in 2011. That year, the players were locked out until training camp, meaning they didn’t even have virtual workouts. And Dalton was also a rookie that year. They ended up making the playoffs.
A lot of people play into the (narrative of) ‘how long does it take to get clicking. We’re all football players doing this for a long time. (Dalton) and I came in in 2011 and we went 9-7, and we didn’t have any kind of expectations”, he said.
The Bengals have posted four straight losing seasons after going to the postseason five years in a row since Green was drafted. They went 2-14 last year, putting them in the position to draft Burrow, in 2019. Green missed the entire season due to a toe injury. He will play the 2020 season under the franchise tag.