Bengals expect Burrow to be back for 2021 season

Rookie quarterback will have surgery on injured left knee

CINCINNATI -- Cincinnati Bengals coach Zac Taylor expects quarterback Joe Burrow to make a full recovery from his knee injury suffered Sunday and be back for the 2021 season following surgery and rehab, but he would not elaborate on the extent of the damage.

The left knee injury came Sunday in the third quarter of a 20-9 loss to the Washington Football Team when Burrow was caught between two pass rushers after throwing an incomplete pass on third-and-2.

Taylor would not confirm the diagnosis, which ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Ben Baby reported as a torn ACL and MCL, and he would not specify if Burrow is expected to be ready for the start of the 2021 season or what kind of timeline is projected for his recovery. The Bengals officially placed him on injured reserve Monday.

“We’ve got to pick ourselves up,” Taylor said. “We can’t feel sorry for ourselves. It is the hand we’re dealt, and we’ve got to find a way to regroup and get some momentum going forward. That’s all we can do. We can’t waste one second feeling sorry for ourselves, and, you know, we hate it for Joe because of the work that he put in to put himself in this position to lead this team, but that’s the reality of the NFL.”

The No. 1 overall draft pick finishes his rookie season with 2,688 yards passing, 13 touchdowns and five interceptions in 10 games. He leads the league in passing attempts (404) and completions (264) and was on pace to break Andrew Luck’s rookie passing record of 4,374 yards set in 2012.

Cincinnati added quarterback Brandon Allen, along with guard Quinton Spain, to the active 53-man roster Monday, and Taylor said the team is beginning the process of looking for a third quarterback. For now, it looks as though Ryan Finley will continue as the new starter after replacing Burrow to finish Sunday’s game and getting three games of experience last year when Andy Dalton was benched.

The Bengals are optimistic about Burrow’s future, despite the gruesome injury that even CBS didn’t show on replay. Wide receiver Tyler Boyd said Burrow’s “confidence and the way he worked” to get better every week are good indicators he will be able to pick up where he left off when he returns.

“Just the way I see him and the way he goes about winning and losing, that’s a guy who always wants to be around no matter what,” Boyd said Monday. “At the Steelers game (in Week 10), I could sense it in him. He didn’t like that very much because it was kind of a bad game for us. We came back the next week, he had a lot of juice, he got us going, we got him going. It just sucks man. But he’s a true leader and he’s a guy I know that’s going to get us to a Super Bowl.”

Burrow had come in and instantly won over his teammates on offseason Zoom meetings and in how he conducted himself through his first practices this August. The Bengals players voted him a team captain, despite his newness to the league and not even a preseason game to prove himself.

The Bengals will miss that leadership as much as his 65.3 percent completion rate and ability to keep them in games. Although he was 2-7-1, five of the losses were by five points or less and he was normally driving the team down the field late in games.

“It just gives you that (mindset) of wanting to do a lot more for the kid,” free safety Jessie Bates said Monday. “He doesn’t complain at all. I don’t care how many times het gets hit, he gets right up and he’s limping off the field. He’s always positive. That’s where we’re going to have to pick up the slack. He’s a helluva football player, but he’s a helluva leader as well as far as his swagger goes.

“Everyone is just having that feeling like we’re going to be alright when he’s out there. It’s going to hurt, but there’s no doubt in my mind that God has a bigger plan for him in his career and I can’t wait to see him next year for sure.”

Taylor said Burrow got “10 games of really good reps” in his shortened rookie year and showed a lot of growth as the season progressed. He wouldn’t be surprised if the former Heisman Trophy winner already has begun the process of reflecting and assessing his performance, and Taylor expects Burrow will remain involved in some manger the remaining six weeks.

“That’s just kind of how he’s wired, so he’ll still be around,” Taylor said. “He will still have plenty of work he can do on his own and get back in shape and help lead us going forward.”

Boyd said he saw Burrow at the team facility Monday morning and he appeared in good spirits.

The rest of the team has to follow that lead, knowing the sparkplug of the offense isn’t going to be out there. Players acknowledged an immediate drop in the energy Sunday when Burrow was carted off to the locker room. The Bengals, who were leading 9-7 at the time, gave up a touchdown on the next drive after punting, the offense went three-and-out on backup Ryan Finley’s first series and Washington scored 13 unanswered points to steal the win.

“It’s going to suck for me because that’s my guy and we had a great connection we were building each and every week,” Boyd said. “I felt like just in our confidence level, just playing with each other and just everybody else around, just getting our chemistry and feeling dominant at the time just made us all trust and believe, like I continue to say.

“I’ve kind of played with several quarterbacks in my career through college and since I got to the league. At the end of the day, I have to continue to do my job well and great. Put good stuff on tape and make as many plays as I can when the ball comes my way. Finley, he had played some last year. He’s not kind of new to this. He has the ability to make plays. I know that because of last year. But at the end of the day, next man up. We gotta step up and fill the shoes and gotta finish this off strong for us.”


Giants at Bengals, 1 p.m., Fox, 700, 1530, 102.7, 104.7

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