CINCINNATI — Ever since going down with a right calf strain 90 minutes into a sweltering practice last Thursday, there has been no public sighting of Joe Burrow.
But the Bengals quarterback was finally sighted by media in the locker room after practice Monday, as he sat down to to an out-of-town interview and walked around the locker room with no noticeable limp.
This may seem insignificant but understand that Burrow – still with the sleeve on his right calf – didn’t have to be at this locker for everyone to see unless he wanted everyone to see that things will be fine.
One could surmise that his presence at his locker could be just as significant for his teammates as it is to make a public statement. But his teammates, no doubt, have already seen him in and around the building so that’s no surprise.
To see the quarterback up and mobile, without crutches and acting as though things are normal is certainly a sign to everyone else that Burrow plans to be ready in the “several weeks” timeline outlined by Zac Taylor to return to practice and get ready for the season opener Sept. 10 in Cleveland.
Burrow did not speak to the local media in any type of public availability on Monday.
This has been an impressive camp so far for star receivers Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins. Both have been catching passes in tight spaces, competing hard for 50-50 balls and running sharp routes. On Monday, Chase caught another deep ball for a touchdown from Jake Browning in 7-on-7s and won a battle on an outside route to the sideline. He has been matched with Cam Taylor-Britt, who did knock down one pass from Browning on an out route.
Higgins caught several in-cuts and slants over the middle, including a pass from Browning that was behind him, thrown over Logan Wilson and in front of Mike Hilton.
“I think that they continue to raise the standard,” Taylor said after Monday’s practice. “I think that’s a credit to Troy (Walters) really pushing them. That’s a credit to those guys, as well and TB, the whole room, I get that you’re talking about Ja’Marr and Tee, which you should because I think they’ve had an outstanding camp. But I think the room as a whole has done a really good job raising that standard.”
The Bengals will suit up in full pads Tuesday for the first time in training camp. This is the first full chance for coaches to evaluate the run game as offensive and defensive linemen get to do battle in the trenches. It’s also a chance for linebackers and defensive backs to practice wrapping up receivers, tight ends and running backs.
“It’s different,” Taylor said. “It’s a whole different energy level, physicalness to things and so you get a chance to (watch). And we’ve got a big install in at this point, so everything’s pretty close to being in. So, I think the guys will be ready to go.”
Expect to see the Bengals in pads Tuesday before an off-day Wednesday. Pads will likely be back for Thursday and Friday. Then they’ll likely be on for Sunday and Monday, off-day Tuesday and joint practice Wednesday.
Head coach Zac Taylor said the team is taking it easy this week with Trey Hendrickson. The defensive edge doesn’t have a serious injury but the Bengals coach indicated that they are managing a “lower body” issue and easing him back into practice as the week progresses. He will be limited on Tuesday before Wednesday’s off-day.
The team has been carefully monitoring his reps in the first week of camp and Hendrickson made his way out to practice at the start of Monday’s session, again with no noticeable issues. Certainly, this does appear to be a way of making sure their freshly-extended defensive end is ready for practice by the end of this week and for the joint practice next Wednesday against Green Bay.
Zac Taylor says Bengals are playing it cautious with Trey Hendrickson dealing with a minor lower body issue pic.twitter.com/klvAFkx6CJ
— Mike Petraglia (@Trags) July 31, 2023
Another player making progress is Chido Awuzie. The star corner ran wind sprints on Monday and is still not taking part in team drills such as 11-on-11s and 7-on-7s. He looks strong but Taylor and the staff feel zero pressure to put him on the field while the first and second-year defensive backs shine in practice.
“I’m not in a real rush to get him in team reps,” Taylor said. “I think the smart thing to do is continue to do what we’re doing right now. I think he’s looked really good in the things were doing, but again we’re not going to push it and push it too fast.”
Bengals punter Drue Chrisman, in a camp battle with rookie Brad Robbins, returned to practice on Monday. Again, the Bengals are easing him back in and he’s not participating after he dealt with an undisclosed medical issue last week that delayed his start to camp. Chrisman, who fell on his head, indicated that the issue occurred while he was training with the team, allowing him to receive immediate attention.
“I don’t know the exact timeline yet,” Chrisman said. “I had a procedure a couple days ago. And so we’re really just waiting for that to heal. And all the other tests that we’ve done have come back really positive and kind of eliminated all the really scary stuff. So kind of just waiting for that to heal. And, my hope is next week. You know, this procedure wasn’t super invasive, kind of just waiting for a scab to heal, and hopefully get the green light to go. But I’ve got to talk to the doctors tomorrow and put a plan together. But that’s my hope.”
Chrisman was not comfortable disclosing the nature of the procedure yet.
“Not at this time, still kind of figuring some things out,” he added. “Yeah, it was kind of a freak thing. I’ve dealt with a little bit of something ever since I was 10 years old, really. And, obviously, was a little more extreme at this point. So it was a little scary. But luckily, it happened right in the weight room here. I couldn’t have asked for a better spot to be to get that kind of immediate attention and care, and hats off to everybody that acted so quickly and got me the care that I needed.”
The offensive line competition, namely the battle for the starting right tackle spot, begins to heat up on Tuesday. Offensive line coach Frank Pollack indicated that Jonah Williams and Jackson Carman both bring different and important skillsets to the competition. Williams has the experience of having played the position at Alabama and has a thorough understanding of the Bengals blocking schemes in his time with the team. Carman has trimmed down to accentuate his athletic skills, which Pollack says are significant.
Zac Taylor indicated that third quarterback Reid Sinnett, signed Sunday to provide some extra reps in camp without Burrow available, won’t be rushed right into camp. He needs to learn the offense and get up to speed with the install of the offense before he’s on the field throwing passes around.