For Burrow, it took the last month since the conclusion of the offseason workout program – when estimated he was at about 85 percent strength -- to get over the last plateau he reached in his rehab. He passed all his tests Tuesday.
The 2020 No. 1 draft pick entered the start of camp Wednesday looking fit and said he trimmed a bunch of fat and added muscle. Now his knee “feels great, body feels great,” and he’s more confident in his movements than he was during Organized Team Activities and minicamp.
“In OTAs, there were still some movements that I was not super confident in, one of them being a naked (bootleg) going to my right back out to my left,” Burrow said. “I feel really good about that now. There’s no football movements that give me any issues right now. So I feel confident going into the season.”
Now Burrow gets to participate in 11-on-11 drills and can do everything a starting quarterback normally does in training camp – except one thing. The Bengals don’t plan to use him in any of the three preseason games, so his first live pass rush will come Week 1 against Minnesota.
Burrow said there’s still some simulation he can do in practices, but there’s no substitute for feeling that pressure in a game situation.
“There’s still full-speed up front,” Burrow said. “You’re still feeling it a little bit in practice. You just know you can’t get hit. Really, I guess, I just want to hit once or twice before I go out there. … That’s kind of the way it’s always been for me. It doesn’t really feel like football till you get hit a little bit. That’s how it’s been for me since eighth grade. In scrimmages, I was always lobbying to be live. That’s how it’s always been. It’s just what I need to feel ready for Week 1.”
The second-year quarterback didn’t get a chance to play preseason games last year because they didn’t happen during the early part of the pandemic, but now it could especially be useful in making sure he’s fully confident on his repaired knee.
Burrow will continue trying to change the organization’s mind, but Taylor laughed a “no,” when asked if there are any magic words Burrow could say to do that.
“We’ll look at everything, every scenario about what would we gain out of it?” Taylor said. “If we’re going to put him out there what exactly is that going to look like? Can we control it or not control it? We don’t have to make that decision today. We can see how the weeks go. There will be a lot of thought that goes into that process and we will make sure he’s ready to play Week 1 of the regular season.”