Healthy again, Bengals terrier embraces ‘normal’ offseason

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CINCINNATI — Joe Burrow is entering his third season in the NFL.

However, this is his first reasonably normal offseason for the Cincinnati Bengals quarterback.

He doesn’t take it for granted.

Burrow, the first pick in the 2020 draft, entered the league amid the uncertainty and chaos of the pandemic. A serious knee injury in Game 10 of this rookie season required surgery, and his rehabilitation continued even as the 2021 season began.

So Burrow, 25, is healthy for off-season team practice for the first time, shedding the brace he wore on his repaired left knee all last season when he improbably took the Bengals to a Super Bowl for the first time in 33 years. .

“I was just able to focus on the wholeness of myself, the weight room and the conditioning, on the court, the throwing, the mechanics, all of that, without really focusing on the knee,” Burrow said. Tuesday after a sweltering workout at Paul Brown Stadium. , the first of three sessions that will conclude the team’s activities until the start of training camp at the end of July.

“I just get stronger, my body gets more connected, I move more efficiently, the whole nine yards,” he said.

Coach Zac Taylor appreciates the lead the Bengals have this time with Burrow at full speed and knowing he can plan for the preseason with his starting quarterback ready.

“I know it’s something he mentioned months ago, he was looking forward to being healthy for spring and having a real spring,” Taylor said. “I think he continues to elevate the level of what we expect. He is certainly a leader of the attack and of this team and he holds himself to a very high standard and expects those who face him. ‘surround are also raising their standards.

Burrow was the most sacked quarterback in the NFL last season, and the Bengals moved quickly during free agency, signing veterans Alex Cappa, Ted Karras and La’el Collins to help maintain their franchise QB. more often. Cappa is recovering from a core muscle injury, but Taylor said he’s confident the new Cincinnati center will be healthy by the start of training camp.

“The most important thing is just to restore chemistry with the receivers, obviously, but to restore that relationship in the locker room,” Burrow said. “We have new faces there, and so you kind of have to start from scratch every year and build that relationship throughout the dressing room. Every year you get 15-20 new faces with all the rookies and free agents you bring in. So just building that team cohesion was a big part of our success last year.

The Bengals started 2021 slowly, and Burrow admittedly didn’t feel fully confident in his left knee until about the halfway point.

Cincinnati came in late, won AFC North 10-7, then picked up playoff wins over the Raiders, Titans and Chiefs. The below-average offensive line took a beating in a 23-20 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in the Super Bowl.

Taylor, who was 6-25-1 in his first two seasons as Bengals head coach, knows how difficult it is to take a team to the Super Bowl, but the journey seems more manageable. behind Burrow, who feels great and is, as always, extremely confident.

“You want a guy who really has the mental makeup of exactly what you want out of your quarterback,” Taylor said. “We have extremely high expectations for Joe, but I don’t think anyone has higher expectations than him for himself. He’s played for championships now at every level, and that’s what you want to drive. your ship.

The Bengals signed offensive lineman Cordell Volson on Tuesday, the last of their 2022 draft picks to be signed. Volson, a fourth-round pick, served as a two-time team captain at North Dakota State University and played a school-record 65 games with the Bison.

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