Burrow says he’s ‘good to go’ after early camp struggles

Cincinnati Bengals' Joe Burrow participates in a drill during NFL football practice in Cincinnati, Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)
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Cincinnati Bengals' Joe Burrow participates in a drill during NFL football practice in Cincinnati, Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)

Credit: Aaron Doster

Credit: Aaron Doster

CINCINNATI -- A little more than 10 days after expressing some frustration about his performances in practice, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow now declares he is back to his “old self.”

Burrow struggled through the first week and a half of training camp and said in an interview Aug. 7 he was not feeling comfortable in the pocket yet as he continued working back into the normal routine following December knee surgery.

The light seemed to turn on over the past week, and he is back to the fully confident quarterback the Bengals drafted No. 1 overall in 2020.

“We’re good to go now,” Burrow said Wednesday after the last practice of training camp. “The last, you know, six to 10 practices have felt really good.”

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Although he was not happy with the way he was throwing the ball and running the offense early in camp, Burrow wasn’t worried about whether he could get back to his pre-injury form. Burrow said the difference since that last interview is he’s had more practices and more reps to get back into the swing of things.

“Like I’ve said before, no one was panicked, I wasn’t panicked,” Burrow said. “Just took more reps. Coming off a bad injury, haven’t played for a while, now we’re back to normal 10 practices later. We’re good to go.”

Bengals coach Zac Taylor said Burrow now looks like a player in “full command,” moving around the pocket well, scrambling and showing some good speed.

“I thought he’s had a really good week this week,” Taylor said. “He had a really good week last week, too. Certainly I feel like offensively starting with the quarterback position it’s trending in the right direction with where we want to go. It’s a part of training camp. Those first couple of weeks they didn’t go as unplanned. You put a lot of things in and you’re looking to do a lot of different stuff. I really feel like this last week-and-a-half, last two weeks these guys have taken the next step and are starting to find their rhythm there.”

Early in camp, Burrow was doing well in individual and 7-on-7 drills but that wasn’t carrying over to 11-on-11s. After Burrow expressed he wasn’t feeling comfortable in the pocket, the Bengals decided to put more pressure on him during the individual and short-sided drills to see if that would help.

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Offensive coordinator Brian Callahan and quarterbacks coach Dan Pitcher stood around Burrow during drills and came up with some other ways to create more of a feeling of a pass rush, and while not the most intimidating semblance of a defensive line, that seemed to do the trick.

“The one day where we started changing that, doing it differently, it felt back to normal very quickly,” Burrow said. “We went out there early one day, started throwing bags at my legs. I’m sure everyone saw it, and I was back to normal after that.”

Getting more comfortable was the last step for Burrow to feel like he is back to 100 percent. He once again won’t be playing Friday in the second preseason game at Washington, where he tore his ACL and MCL in Week 11 last year, but Burrow said he still would like a chance to get some live reps against an opponent before the season opener Sept. 12.

Normally, that might not be the case for a quarterback, as preseason games are viewed as an unnecessary risk, but Burrow said any player standing on the sideline watching others compete has a hard time not participating.

“You know I always want to go out there and compete, but I don’t get paid to make those decisions,” Burrow said. “That’s ownership and Zac (Taylor), and I trust those guys to make the right decisions for us and our team and we’ll see about the next week.”

Burrow said even a few plays would help. After not having a preseason last year, Burrow felt like he got off to a slow start but still put the team in a position to win the opener. The Bengals lost to the L.A. Rams, 16-13, when Randy Bullock missed what would have been the game-tying field goal at the end.

This year Burrow thinks the experience around him will help if he doesn’t get to play in the preseason finale against Miami, but he’s still subtly lobbying for it.

“I’ve been lobbying, just saying what plays I might like against Miami, third downs, first couple plays,” Burrow said. “Just throw some plays out there and put them in their head.”

NOTES: Taylor said the team is still waiting on more information on rookie defensive end Joseph Ossai’s injured wrist, but he will be out Friday, as will Eli Apple, Ricardo Allen, Donnie Lewis, Khalid Kareem and Trayveon Williams. Defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi will play after being held out of Saturday’s win at Tampa Bay. Rookie offensive lineman D’Ante Smith experienced a dehydration issue Tuesday and did not practice Wednesday. He could be held out Friday as a precaution, but Taylor said he is fine.

FRIDAY’S GAME

Bengals at Washington, 8 p.m., Ch. 12 (CBS, Cincinnati), Ch. 22 (ABC, Dayton),1530, 102.7, 104.7