And so Joe Burrow will play in the final preseason game for the Cincinnati Bengals after all, after head coach Zac Taylor had said that he’d already “seen enough” from the second-year quarterback to be comfortable putting him on the field for the season opener.
“I think it’s just good to check that box”, Taylor said earlier this week about getting Burrow back in a game. “You go out there in a real game, you’re in there with the guys, and it’ll be very limited. We’ll be smart with what we do and get him out and then we’ll get ready for Minnesota”.
Now, he’s probably not going to play very long, perhaps about as long as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger played for the Pittsburgh Steelers last week, but it will be the only in-game action before the regular season for a second-year quarterback who has only seen work in 10 games before. He didn’t even have a preseason last year, as you’ll recall, due to the pandemic. And he told reporters recently that it was the plan all along to get him out there.
“This was the plan the whole time”, Burrow said with a smile, “we just didn’t want to tell you guys. I’m excited to get out there and have a game-type feel. I think it’s important, going into the last preseason game, to be as close as you can to having a game-like feel. I’m gonna be in the huddle during game one, so I need to be out there for the first play of this game, so I’m excited”.
As you know, Burrow was the first overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, following one of the great college football seasons of all time, leading LSU to an undefeated championship season while tossing 60 touchdown passes and over 5,600 passing yards.
Though Cincinnati only went 2-7-1 in the 10 games he started (they were winning, and ended up losing, in the game in which he suffered the knee injury that ended his season), they are understandably optimistic that the arrow very much continues to point up.
They also added Ja’Marr Chase, the wide receiver who caught 20 of his touchdown passes for LSU in 2019. Chase sat out the 2020 season, but was still selected fifth overall by the Bengals this year, opting for him over a top tackle prospect like Penei Sewell.
Both Burrow and Chase have said this offseason that the connection between the two is still very much there. This will be the first time that they work together inside of a stadium since their college days, perhaps the first glimpse of a very long and fruitful pairing.