Burrow anxious to build on fast start in Chicago

CINCINNATI -- Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow said he felt sore right after his first game since December knee surgery, but said three days later he is fine and faces no limitations this week while gearing up for a road game against the Chicago Bears.

Burrow was sacked five times in a 27-24 overtime win over Minnesota on Sunday, the last of those causing him to hobble to the sideline as the punt unit came onto the field. No trainers tended to him, and he went right to the stationary bike to stay loose.

The game marked his first since Week 11 of the 2020 season when he tore his ACL and MCL. He played just three snaps in the preseason finale.

“My knee was pretty sore for right after the game, but I feel better than I have all camp right now, so that’s a good sign,” Burrow said Wednesday as the team returned to practice after an off day Tuesday.

While Burrow is good to go for Week 2, the Bengals had to make adjustments Wednesday with safety Ricardo Allen going on injured reserve because of a broken hand that also coincided with a hamstring issue. Allen played a big role Sunday coming on in several three-safety sets and also on special teams. He played 25 percent of the defensive snaps, recording five tackles, and was in one 56 percent of special teams snaps.

Bengals coach Zac Taylor said he’s hoping the hand will only keep him out the three weeks required to miss while on injured reserve in-season; however, Allen’s absence is a big impact on the defense. In corresponding moves Wednesday, the Bengals signed wide receiver Trenton Irwin off the practice squad and signed safety Sean Davis to the practice squad. Davis, a sixth-year player who spent time with Pittsburgh, Washington and Indianapolis and appeared in 65 career games, was released off the Colts’ practice squad Tuesday.

“He’s a veteran player, understands his role is very sound with his technique and understands how offenses are trying to attack you, so he’s very smart in that regard,” Taylor said of Allen. “He spends a lot of time studying quarterbacks, what quarterbacks are being coached, asks me a lot of offensive questions so he brings that to the table. But again, we still feel good with a lot of other packages that we can get to some different looks. … We’ve got a lot of different personnel that we can utilize. We feel really good about our backers in coverage, we feel really good about our safeties in coverage, we feel great about our corners in coverage, so we feel like there’s some depth there that you can package around and get the right guys on through.”

The Bengals defense is preparing for two different quarterbacks in Andy Dalton and Justin Fields, who only played five snaps Sunday but scored on a 3-yard run and could be used more as a Lamar Jackson type athlete. The Bears also feature running back David Montgomery.

Chicago’s defense will provide another challenge with a potent pass rush led by outside linebacker Khalil Mack.

“You’ve got to be aware of him at all times, whether you’re sliding your protection or chipping him or getting the ball out quickly, you know, he’s one of the best pass rushers in the league,” Burrow said. “Fortunately, for us, we play in a division with a lot of those guys, and we’re used to playing against that kind of player.”

Sunday at Soldier Field will mark Burrow’s first road game playing in front of a big crowd. Attendance was so limited last year in his 10 games, he never had to play in a hostile environment.

Burrow said playing in the SEC in college prepared him well for the NFL atmosphere. He enjoyed the friendly crowd at Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday, and the Bengals put together a winning formula by running the ball well, playing physical and then hitting the defense with effective play-action passes. Burrow said the key to success on the road this week will be similar.

“You have to control the clock, control the ball and hit the opportunities when they’re there,” Burrow said. “When you are on the road, communication is harder, defenses are able to disguise blitzes better because you are on silent cadence, so you’ve got to be good in those areas and find ways to get the defense to uncover themselves.”

Burrow was playing more under center Sunday against the Vikings than he had in the past, something he never did before coming to Cincinnati. That makes it easier communicate vocally with his teammates even with crowd noise, but in shotgun formation, Burrow will have to go silent with his calls. Those were things he never had to think about last year, he said, because of the limited crowds.

Going under center has other advantages with being able to better fake play action, but it’s also harder “to feel the rush and feel the zones of the defenses,” so the quarterback has to be able to react quickly and get the ball out faster.

Burrow said he thought he read the defense well Sunday and “played well enough to get the win.” He’s hoping for a better game this week.

“The main thing would be (to) get a win on the road,” Burrow said. “That’s a big thing for us. We were 1-0 last week, we want to be 1-0 this week. We’re not going to look ahead and we’re not going to look back. We’re going to focus on this week. It’s a really talented defense and they’ve got some players on offense so we’re going to have to go in there and get the job done.”


Bengals at Bears, 1 p.m., Fox, 1530, 102.7, 104.7

About the Author