Bengals rookie getting plenty of work in with Burrow

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

CINCINNATI — Jermaine Burton said he’s been enjoying his first practices catching passes from Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow since the rookies got integrated into the team’s offseason workout program last week.

However, Burton isn’t ready to start patting himself on the back for any plays he has made so far.

The rookie third-round draft pick out of Alabama has drawn attention with some catches on deep balls during voluntary workouts open to media, but the Bengals are still limited to position group drills and individual work without competition from someone on the other side of the ball. That will change next week with the transition to “Phase 3″ or Organized Team Activities (OTAs) next week when they will have a chance to do 7-on-7s and 11-on-11s.

Until then, Burton said it’s easy to look good.

“I haven’t gone against any defense yet, so not really,” Burton said when asked if he feels good about the work he’s putting in so far.

The Bengals expect Burton to give Burrow another versatile weapon alongside Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins, who has not yet signed his franchise tag but is expected to play in 2024.

With Tyler Boyd departed to the Tennessee Titans, the third starting spot is up for grabs, but the Bengals will have plenty of flexibility with their options. Burton can play slot and can also be a deep threat if Chase slides inside.

Burton said a lot is being thrown at the newcomers as they try to get up to speed on the playbook and terminology of how Cincinnati calls things, but that’s part of the job. At Alabama, he was expected to pay attention to “the little details” as well, and just like his transition from high school to college and from Georgia to Alabama after he transferred, “the quicker you understand it, the quicker you can play.”

“They help us a lot when we’re in the facility, with what we have to know,” Burton said. “And we also can go back while we’re at where we’re staying, we can check the iPad and go over all the information we’re going over, so it’s not really hard. You’ve just got to stay up to date with it, but it can get tricky here and there. But as long as you keep repeating it in your head and going over it, you’ve got a better shot.”

Neither Chase nor Higgins have been participating in the voluntary workouts so Burton is getting extra opportunities to show himself early, working alongside the other wide receivers who will be competing for snaps this season.

Trenton Irwin, Andrei Iosivas and Charlie Jones all were in the mix behind the “Big Three” last year, and Irwin made the most of his opportunities as the fourth receiver getting starts when Chase or Higgins were injured. Burton has been fitting in with that group just fine so far.

“They are all welcoming,” Burton said. “I pretty much have a connection with everybody in the receiver room, so I just look forward to keep working with those guys. They are all dope so I like working with them.”

Former Bengals receiver TJ Houshmandzadeh also helped prepare Burton for his time in Cincinnati. Houshmandzadeh has been training Burton during his college offseasons and ahead of the draft back home in California, and Burton said he has been instrumental in helping him become the receiver he is today.

Although Burton hasn’t been able to work with Chase yet, he does have a previous connection with him. Chase hosted him on a college visit ahead of the 2019 season when Burton originally had committed to LSU.

“That was dope,” Burton said. “It was when I was committed to LSU at the time him and Joe (Burrow) were there. When I got up there, (wide receivers) coach Mickey (Joseph) put me with him, and it was cool so we already had a little connection before got here and whatnot. That was dope, it was a fun weekend for sure.”

The time Burton is getting now with Burrow is important so he can get a better feel for how his quarterback likes to do things and how he sees the field.

Burton said “it’s a blessing” to have an opportunity to play with one of the top quarterbacks in the league. Burrow tends to make it easier on his receivers to look good.

“He’s the guy so (it’s) whatever he feels on a lot of details and splits and adjustments on certain coverages, a lot of stuff like that,” Burton said. “As long as you can just hone in and pay attention to the little details, I think you’ll have a successful time with Joe Burrow.”

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