Will we see Joe Burrow on the field for the Cincinnati Bengals before the regular season begins? Apparently, nobody knows yet, because Bengals head coach Zac Taylor has yet to make that decision. The second-year quarterback is coming back from a torn ACL that he suffered in the second half of last season, and he has been held out of the first two preseason games.
“They’ve shown us enough to know that they’re going to be ready to play”, Taylor said, referring both to Burrow and the team’s projected starting center, Trey Hopkins, who is also recovering from a torn ACL that he suffered a year ago.
“It’s just a matter of what do we want do? Do we want to put those guys out there in a preseason game or just give them more rest and get them ready for the Minnesota game?”, he added. “We’ll take a couple more days before we make that decision since we’ve got a week here before that game”.
As you will recall, Burrow did not have the benefit of a preseason during his rookie year, anyway, since the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the entire exhibition slate being scrapped entirely. Originally, the NFL wanted to play one or two games, but pushback from the NFLPA resulted in its foregoing in total.
The lack of a preseason didn’t hurt him too bad, though. In 10 starts, he completed 264 of 404 pass attempts for 2,688 yards with 13 touchdowns to five interceptions, and the eye test showed much better than his actual numbers do. Though they went 2-7-1 in his starts, they were competitive nearly every week, and he has his surrounding team to blame for many of those losses.
Burrow was the first overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the consensus best player in the class following his outstanding final, undefeated championship season at LSU, which saw him throw for well over 5,000 yards with 60 touchdown passes.
It’s fair to say that the Bengals have hitched their wagon to him, and they won’t be dumping him any time soon like Josh Rosen—at least, presumably, though Cincinnati tends to hang on to their players more than most other teams who frequently draft near the top of the order.
The good news is that Burrow and Hopkins already played together a lot last year, so they don’t necessarily need to work on in-game chemistry. They’ve already gotten 10 weeks’ worth of that, so if both would be better served with a few more weeks of rest before the meaningful games start (Hopkins tore his ACL in Week 17), then it’s hard to question Taylor’s decision if he ends up not playing either one of them this week.