CINCINNATI — Much has been made – and rightfully so – of Joe Burrow’s legs, most notably his left knee. But on Thursday, the Bengals star quarterback showed why his arm should get as much attention.
Burrow in drills threw effortlessly across his body and accurately 30-40 yards downfield, hitting targets near or in the end zone.
He also showed the ability to move in and out of the pocket and keep his eyes downfield, firing a 50-yard strike to his first-round rookie receiver Ja’Marr Chase, who dropped the ball that was put right in his hands.
Burrow also threw accurately to Chase on an out pattern on the far sideline.
But there were some hiccups. Burrow threw a go route for Chase that was knocked away in close coverage by corner Chidobe Awuzie. Burrow also threw a laser over the middle in traffic intended for Tee Higgins that was knocked away. Obviously, some quarterbacks like to make those throws in training camp to see what happens when they try to thread the needle, with the understanding that it’s educational to see what happens on certain looks in traffic.
Nevertheless, there were more highlights and completed passes than not, including a diving catch by Tyler Boyd on a sideline route and a clean route over the middle as Burrow worked on crossing patterns.
— Mike Petraglia (@Trags) July 29, 2021
The practice was 10 minutes longer, going one hour, 40 minutes, as players labored in hazy sunshine and humidity, with temperatures hovering around 93 degrees.
Kicker Austin Siebert, battling rookie Evan McPherson, missed a couple of kicks wide right as he appeared to draw the kick from right to left in a stiff cross breeze. Siebert made four of his six kicks.
Chidobe Awuzie had the most impressive day among cornerbacks, with a pair of breakups.
Jesse Bates III spoke to reporters Thursday and the fourth-year safety is fairly confident that he’ll be getting the chance to sign an extension just like teammate Sam Hubbard did earlier in the week.
“Yeah, I’m super eager to get a deal done,” Bates said. “Obviously, I want to be here. You know, I think my mom’s a little bit more eager, just because she wants to know whether she’s gonna move to Cincinnati maybe. So, you know, that’s ongoing talk that I’m very excited about. But I’m just excited to get back into training camp with the new guys and being able to compete against our offense, some of their newer guys as well and kind of see how we line up against each other. It’s crazy to think about. I think we got preseason game in about 14 days. That’ll come up very quickly. So just being able to focus on that and be the leader that I am on this team to make us the best team that we can be this year.”
Bates, 24, admitted he’d like to get it done by the end of camp.
“Yeah, I wish it was done today, obviously, but there are negotiations that have to happen between my agent and you know, upstairs,” Bates said. “So, that’s a process like I said I’m eager about, but it’ll happen when it’s supposed to happen. I truly believe that.”
When director of player personnel Duke Tobin spoke of Hubbard’s extension, he talked about how much that can resonate in a locker room seeing guys being rewarded. It was Bates’ rookie year when they extended Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins.
“I mean, I remember last year when Joe (Mixon) got his deal done, we all kind of excited about that,” Bates said. “You know, I think it’s really cool to see guys get drafted here, play well and then get rewarded for it. I think that kind of gives you know, Tee Higgins, for example, (motivation) to kind of do it the right way. Don’t do it the wrong way and you’re going to get taken care of here. So that’s something that I can — hopefully, you know, I’ll be a part of that example as well here coming soon.”
Tee Higgins has big goals in 2021, his second in the NFL. Last year, he finished with 67 catches, 908 yards and six touchdowns.
— Mike Petraglia (@Trags) July 29, 2021
“Last year, how many yards did I have?” Higgins said of his rookie season. “I wrote that down. This year, I’ve got bigger goals for myself. So I wrote that down and looked at it every day in the mirror. That motivated me to go out there and work and work every day.”
“I have my goals in the mirror right now. Obviously, I want to be a Pro Bowler, I want to go for 1,000 this year and just get to the playoffs. At the end of the day, that’s the main goal…I got 1K on my mirror right now”