Bengals’ Burrow on injury rehab: ‘Right now, it’s looking good’

Joe Burrow says he remains on track to be ready for season opener.

The Cincinnati Bengals quarterback is coming back from December surgery to repair the ACL and MCL in his left knee and had only minor limitations during the team’s offseason workout program.

Burrow got plenty of work in -- and looked mobile doing it -- during the past four weeks of practices, which included a shortened one-day mandatory minicamp Tuesday that followed nine voluntary Organized Team Activities sessions.

“Really good,” Burrow said when asked how his knee responded to the team’s offseason workout program. “Happy with where it’s at. Still got a ways to go, still got about three months left for the rehab, but I’ll be ready to go for the season as long as there’s no setbacks. Right now, it’s looking good.”

Burrow was understandably coddled a little through the first two weeks of practices, even though there was no contact for anyone, per NFL offseason workout limitations with players only allowed to wear helmets and shorts. Burrow didn’t participate in handoff and play-action fake drills, as the Bengals wanted to keep him from being in close proximity to other players to avoid mishaps and potential setback, but the third week of OTAs he was able to do some of that.

The 2020 No. 1 overall draft pick still was doing light rehab work in addition to regular practices and now will ramp that back up over the next six weeks with hopes to be cleared for contact by training camp. The Bengals report for training camp July 27.

“We should be good to go then,” Burrow said when asked if he expects to take the first snap at training camp. “It’s not really my decision but I’m sure we’ll have that discussion as we get closer. But I’m hoping to be in a good place to be able to do that. Take all the reps I need to get better.”

Burrow said going into OTAs his knee was at about 85 percent normal strength, and he’s still around that mark, but the next six weeks will be enough time to close the rest of that gap.

“Continue to work hard, get better and better, add some more weight, continue to do what I was doing before OTAs started,” Burrow said when asked what the rest of his offseason will look like. “I feel great. My body feels great. The knee still has a little ways to go, but my upper body, my right leg, everything else feels better than it ever has before. When I’m on the field and executing, I’m playing better than I ever have before, so I’ll continue the program we were on and get back to 100 percent before camp.”

Nothing Burrow does surprises the coaches anymore.

Bengals coach Zac Taylor said he feels good about Burrow’s progress, as well, especially after not really knowing what to expect going into OTAs. That was part of why the Bengals were so guarded in the beginning to make sure they weren’t placing too much of a workload on him or even setting too many benchmarks for him to meet.

“I think he’s done a great job,” Taylor said. “He looks good, certainly not all the way there yet, so there’s still a process we have to follow leading into training camp, but you guys have been out there. I think everybody’s optimistic. I think he really enjoyed getting out there. It was probably good for him to get the jersey on, put the helmet back on and get in the huddle and call plays, just to be able to throw the ball and see coverages in 7-on-7, so I would say obviously I didn’t want to make any predictions before the offseason program, but he’s in a really good spot.”

Burrow came into workouts zipping the ball around and surprising his receivers by an increase in velocity, which was something he focused on this offseason to improve.

He never faced defenders in the pocket but didn’t throw an incomplete pass during 7-on-7 work Tuesday and felt like he built some good chemistry with his receivers by the end of the offseason program.

“We were clicking,” Burrow said. “I think all camp, the ball might have hit the ground once in 7-on-7. That’s the way it should be in 7-on-7 with no rush. We’re going to continue to execute. And that also comes with routes on air, just knowing the timing of the receivers. We’re getting better and better each week.”