Bengals WRs on Burrow’s return to practice field: ‘It feels great’

CINCINNATI — Trenton Irwin wasn’t surprised to see Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow zinging passes over the first couple of days of on-field workouts this week.

Irwin, who emerged as the team’s fourth receiver last year, had been tossing with Burrow some during the early part of the offseason workout program and had an idea what it would look like when Phase 2 rolled around, allowing for position group drills together on the field. He also knows the kind of player and worker that Burrow is.

Burrow underwent wrist surgery in November and missed the final seven games. He’s been throwing for about a month but the public got to see it through Bengals social media videos Monday and again through coverage of the first practice open to media Tuesday.

When asked if Burrow’s throws still have his usual “zip” to them, Irwin didn’t hesitate to respond.

“It’s there,” Irwin said. “It feels great.”

“We’ve thrown a couple times over the last couple weeks, so we’ve seen it in the early portions of OTAs,” he added. “He’s obviously still working on what he wants to be better at and I’m sure there’s plenty of things there because that’s just the type of guy he is, but it’s there and it’s fun to see that.”

Irwin said although he didn’t doubt Burrow’s ability to come back from the wrist surgery, there was some initial curiosity as to what it would look like at this stage. Burrow had hoped to be throwing by Organized Team Activities, and he met that goal.

It’s not the first time the Bengals have seen him come back from serious injury, though, after he underwent knee surgery in 2020 and led the team to the Super Bowl the next season.

“Everyone’s injury is their own personal journey, and for us, we’re just sort of wondering where everyone’s at, so it was cool to see he really hasn’t missed a step and is able to do what he can do,” Irwin said.

Second-year wide receiver Andrei Iosivas said he wasn’t “necessarily surprised” either.

“I feel like everyone knows he’s the type of guy that is hungry to get back,” Iosivas.

Iosivas said it’s helpful having Burrow back this early in the offseason, particularly for himself as he still needs to build chemistry with the quarterback. Iosivas didn’t have a full offseason with the team last year as a rookie coming in later in the program, and then Burrow missed most of training camp with a calf injury.

The former Princeton wide receiver didn’t get his first targets of the season until Week 5, so he had just five-and-a-half games with Burrow before Burrow’s injury. The majority of Iosivas’ reps have been with Jake Browning to this point.

“It was good,” Iosivas said of having Burrow back on the field in practices. “He looks like he hasn’t missed a step. You can tell he’s been working, giving guys advice, like giving (tight end Mike) Gesicki advice every route, just trying to build chemistry with everyone on the field, so it’s been good.”

Iosivas wasn’t going to go into the details of the advice Burrow has been giving, but he said there are “little nuances” Burrow has been pointing out to help him make the reads and help the receivers catch the ball. Iosivas felt like Burrow was “on time” with all of his throws to him, but there was an overthrow to Charlie Jones on Tuesday, which was a timing factor but still a positive display of strength.

Burrow doesn’t have his full arsenal of weapons with Tee Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase not in attendance at voluntary workouts, at least on the days media have been at the facility, but Iosivas said the group is motivated to get back on track after missing the playoffs in 2023. Burrow is steering that ship.

The fifth-year quarterback said Tuesday in his first press conference of the 2024 NFL calendar year he is “addicted to getting better,” and that’s obvious to Iosivas and others around him.

“Watching what happened last year with the Chiefs and stuff, we obviously have a goal in mind and he’s always about that,” Iosivas said. “That’s kind of his whole life, our whole life, and you expect nothing less from him.”

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