Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor said quarterback Joe Burrow will miss several weeks with the calf strain he suffered near the end of Thursday’s practice.
Taylor declined to say whether that could jeopardize Burrow being ready for the start of the regular season.
“Several weeks is several weeks,” he said.
Timeline for Joe Burrow’s Leg Injury
Burrow was not present at practice Friday, but Taylor said he saw the doctors and had been around with the team earlier in the day. When he was, he was using aids to get around, wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase said.
“I’m happy seeing him around the locker room on a crutch and being on that little scooter,” Chase said. “It’s about the support we need to be giving him right now.
“Everybody’s spirit is high. We’re just making sure we’re praying for Joe, making sure everything cool with him. We can’t really sit there and dwell on Joe right now. We’ve got to move forward and hope for the best until he gets back and then pick up where we left off.”
Chase said he’s had a calf strain before and is familiar with the timeline for rehab.
“It’s not that hard,” he said. “It lingers for a little bit, but it goes away eventually. It’s just staying on top of it.”
Asked if he thinks Burrow can be back for the opener, Chase said, “That’s up to him.”
Burrow wore a compression sleeve on his left calf for the first time Thursday, indicating he was dealing with some level of discomfort after Wednesday’s first camp practice. But Taylor shot down any notion that Burrow should have been limited Thursday.
“These guys are always in great dialogue with the trainers and doing all the things that they can be to be precautionary,” Taylor said. “But I thought he looked great out there yesterday moving around.”
While the “several weeks” diagnosis is vague, the Bengals are expecting Burrow to be out long enough that they plan to sign a third quarterback to work behind Jake Browning, who is in his third season with the team, and veteran Trevor Siemian, whom the Bengals signed to a one-year deal in May.
“We’ll work some guys out and add a guy to the mix,” Taylor said.
Browning took the first-team reps Friday and looked sharp, throwing a touchdown pass to Trenton Irwin and hitting Chase on a deep ball early in the first 11-on-11 session. Later in red-zone drills, Browning connected with Tyler Boyd on a touchdown in the corner of the end zone before again connecting with Irwin, who leaped high along the back line of the end zone to snare the pass.
But just as the battle to see whether Browning or Siemian would be Burrow’s backup was a tossup, so, too, is the competition for the starting job for however long Burrow is out.
“Today and tomorrow will rotate with the ones,” Taylor said, meaning Siemian will get the first-team reps Saturday for the “Back Together Again” event inside Paycor Stadium.
“Likely next week we’ll start doing two days (in a row) so guys can get into rhythm and receivers and those guys can get into a rhythm,” Taylor continued. “So you might see two days in a row where guys are taking ones (reps). Don’t read too much into it. We’re in the early part of camp. We’re going to give those guys a lot of opportunities at this point. That’s the silver lining here. These guys get a chance to go with the first group and get a lot of work, a lot more work than they would have gotten.”
It’s obviously not an ideal situation for the Bengals to once again have Burrow dealing with an injury in training camp after the ACL rehab in 2021 and the appendectomy in 2022. But Taylor conceded that it could have been much worse.
“There’s a lot of bad scenarios out there,” he said. “Our theme in the quarterback room is better for something to happen the first two days of camp than in the first two days of the regular season. And so that’s kind of been the motto the last couple years, apparently.”
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