Whitworth’s fondness for Bengals extends to friendship with Burrow

Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay, right, talks with offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth during an NFL football practice Tuesday, June 8, 2021, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

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Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay, right, talks with offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth during an NFL football practice Tuesday, June 8, 2021, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Offensive tackle who spent 11 years with Cincinnati took in QB during his rehab from knee surgery

When L.A. Rams left tackle Andrew Whitworth says he still thinks fondly of the Cincinnati Bengals organization that drafted him 16 years ago, he extends that respect to even current players he never had a chance to call teammates.

Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow revealed Monday that Whitworth befriended him when he was in Los Angeles last winter to undergo major knee surgery and begin rehab there. Whitworth was a second-round draft pick of the Bengals in 2006 and played in Cincinnati through 2016, before the team decided to move on to younger linemen and he ended up with the Rams.

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Whitworth shared to L.A. media last week how happy he was for the Bengals to make the Super Bowl.

“When I got hurt, I was staying about 40 minutes from where he was living, and we were both hurt at the same time, so I’d go over to his house and then watch the games on Sunday,” Burrow said Monday morning. “I think I spent my birthday at his house, and I also spent his birthday at his house. And so that was kind of, you know, a cool thing that he did for me, reaching out to me and kind of making the rehab process a little easier. You know, being in California away from a lot of people that were close to me, he kind of took me in and we had some good times hanging out and watching football and talking about the Bengals and LSU and all that so he’s become a good friend.”

Whitworth, also an LSU product, said Monday evening in a virtual press conference he has kept in touch with Burrow. He was impressed to see him bounce back so quickly from his knee surgery and lead the Bengals to a Super Bowl in just his second season.

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“It’s pretty unbelievable,” Whitworth said. “I texted him right after our (conference championship) game finished, and they’d obviously won earlier in the day. We have a little room in my house that we watch the games in, we call it the black room because it’s all black paint, and it’s my kind of hang out spot. It’s my den. And it’s got all my quotes on the wall and things that I love to read and stuff, and so we were watching TV in there (last December). And I said, ‘Who would have thought, hanging out in that little room, you and I, last December, and now here we are both playing in the Super Bowl a year later?’ Really cool. I mean, special. He’s gonna be a special one, and he’s gonna be a special football player in this league for a long time. But it was neat for us to have a moment like that and cultivate a relationship that I think will last for a long time.”

Uzomah: ‘I’m not missing it’

Tight end C.J. Uzomah says in his mind, he knows he is going to play Sunday, but he is remains “day to day” after spraining his MCL in the AFC Championship.

“It’s the Super Bowl,” Uzomah said. “I’m doing everything I can. I don’t really care too much about how I’m feeling. To be honest, when I’m out there, talking to (trainer) Nick (Cosgray) asking like, ‘Hey, if I’m doing this, is this gonna affect anything? Is this gonna just hurt or is it gonna be structural, like whatever,’ and when he gives me the answer, I’m like, ‘Cool.’ And my mind’s made up that I’m just gonna do it. I’m not missing the biggest game of my life. I’m not missing it.”

Uzomah also told the crowd at Monday night’s fan rally that he was planning on playing, as he tossed his knee brace off the stage. He even jogged a lap around the stadium to high-five fans along the wall, even though it was clear he was laboring a tiny bit.

The veteran tight end did not practice last week, and Bengals coach Zac Taylor said Friday the plan was to get him through the weekend and see how he was doing. The first practice of the week and first game-week injury report comes out Wednesday.

Bengals head to L.A.

The Bengals flew to Los Angeles on Tuesday, their normal off day, and will begin their normal game week preparations Wednesday on the campus of UCLA.

Joe Mixon told Bengals.com that Monday’s Opening Night Fan Rally was “a great sendoff,” as an estimated crowd of 30,000 fans attended.

“I’ve never seen anything like that before or experienced anything like that in my life,” Mixon said. “I thank them for my teammates. I love them, too. It was a huge moment, a historic moment and we’re looking to have many more.”

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