Taylor: No update on Burrow’s return; backup QB job still up for grabs

CINCINNATI — Bengals coach Zac Taylor joked that quarterback Joe Burrow only needs one rep in practice to get ready for the regular season, but there’s still no update on when he might return to the field. Meanwhile, the competition for the backup job continues without a clear frontrunner.

Burrow has been out since straining his right calf on Day 2 of training camp July 27 and has only been seen doing any kind of football activity once, during a light tossing session before the preseason opener at Paycor Stadium on Aug. 11.

Taylor insinuated after that Burrow had been throwing on other occasions when the media and general public were not around, and although he’s still not participating at all in team practices, he’s physically ahead of where he was coming back from an appendectomy last training camp.

The Bengals are wrapping up their preseason schedule Saturday at Washington, and they open the season Sept. 10 at Cleveland.

“It’s a different injury,” Taylor said. “I hate speaking for other people, but last year it’s an unknown how is contact gonna feel, how is it gonna feel when I torque? There’s a lot of things with an internal injury that I can’t speak to, but I would imagine it’s a whole different mindset you have to have. But this one’s in a calf, and he looks great. I mean physically, just walking around, just walking around he looks probably as good as he’s ever looked at this point. So that’s a positive.”

Burrow was in the hospital on Day 1 of camp last year but was back on the practice fields by Aug. 14. He had lost weight through the recovery process and physically had to catch up to where he was prior to the appendectomy.

That likely played a factor in his slow start to the 2022 season, but the calf injury hasn’t prevented Burrow from lifting weights and maintaining strength in ways he couldn’t after an appendectomy. Asked if there is a plan yet for his return, Taylor said there has been a plan throughout but didn’t elaborate on next steps.

“That is something that daily since the day it happened that we go through and decide what’s going to be best for the next day,” Taylor said.

Burrow has been watching film of practices every day, but the offense has looked a lot different with Jake Browning and Trevor Siemian splitting the first-team reps. Neither has been consistent enough or shown enough good flashes to run away with the backup job, and Taylor said a decision will have to be made after Saturday’s game.

Browning, originally a college free agent signing of the Vikings in 2019, has been on the Bengals’ practice squad the last two seasons and has the advantage of being more familiar with the system, but Siemian has started NFL games – just not as many in the last five seasons (six total) after he got double-digit starts in 2016 and 2017 with Denver.

The offense has scored one touchdown in two preseason games under those two quarterbacks with Browning leading a go-ahead drive in the final minute Friday at Atlanta before the Falcons tied the game on a last-season field goal. Cincinnati got a field goal on Siemian’s last drive of the first half.

“I thought both guys did some things that we needed to see in the game, managing the two-minute situations at the end there,” Taylor said. “That race is not over yet. We’ve talked to both those guys. We’ll keep that in-house where it stands today and let them get through this game. That decision has not been made. But we’ve got three days of work left this week and then we got a game and then we have to make that decision. We’ve communicated with those guys on where things are right now. I’ll keep it internal for the time being. But certainly, after this game, we have to make a decision because time is running out.”

The Bengals will do their due diligence behind the scenes if a better option might be available outside the building, but it would be a challenge, Taylor said, to get a new guy up to speed. Still, “anything is feasible.”

The best-case scenario would be that one of them stands out this week in practices and the game Saturday.

Other notes from training camp: Chidobe Awuzie participated in 7-on-7s for the first time Sunday and then took part – briefly – in his first 11-on-11 drill Monday. He had great coverage on Ja’Marr Chase before getting subbed out the next rep. Taylor said the staff is still taking it slowly integrating Awuzie into full team work. The Bengals didn’t do 7-on-7s on Monday. … Tight end Mitchell Wilcox was cleared to practice Monday and was in full team drills. He had been on the Physically Unable to Perform list since re-signing July 24. … Myles Murphy was back to practice Monday after being out with illness late last week and limited Sunday, but B.J. Hill did not practice due to some lower body soreness, according to Taylor, and rookie DJ Turner was limited because of soreness as well. Offensive lineman Cody Ford suffered a concussion in practice Sunday and is in protocol, as is Marvell Tell, who suffered a concussion Friday at Atlanta.


Bengals at Commanders, 6:05 p.m., 1530, 102.7, 104.7

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