On a steamy Sunday afternoon at Paul Brown Stadium, Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow took the field fully dressed in his Cincinnati white uniform. As Burrow walked towards the middle of the field for the coin toss, he was given a standing ovation from the crowd.
Burrow took three snaps on the Bengals’ first offensive drive of the game. On the first play, Burrow handed the ball off to wide receiver Tyler Boyd. The second play, Burrow’s only pass of the game, was a bubble screen to Ja’Marr Chase who dropped the ball.
Chase has now dropped four straight passes in preseason game-action. Cincinnati’s franchise quarterback’s day ended with a handoff to running back Joe Mixon who rushed for five yards.
Burrow has publicly stated his desire to get game snaps ahead of the Bengals’ season-opener on Sept. 12. Prior to Sunday’s game, head coach Zac Taylor told reporters Burrow would get a very limited number of snaps with the first-team offense. Burrow tore his ACL and MCL in Cincinnati’s Week 11 loss to the Washington Football Team last year.
"It will be good to get those guys out there and get them next to each other in the huddle with the coaches on the field, with the fans cheering them on," Taylor said of his decision to play Burrow.
It was obvious Burrow was eager to get on the field as he was spotted on the field with two teammates almost three hours prior to the game throwing passes as the rain came down. Burrow, center Trey Hopkins and Nick Cosgray, Cincinnati’s Director of Rehabilitation, were the Bengals’ game captains. Hopkins and Burrow are both recovering from torn ACL injuries that took place last season.
Wide receiver Tee Higgins was the only starter who didn’t take the field with Burrow on the Bengals’ opening drive. After allowing 32 sacks on Burrow in 10 games in 2020, improving the offensive line play was a priority for the Bengals in the offseason. Riley Reiff, Jonah Williams, Quinton Spain, Xavier Su’a-Filo and Hopkins were the five offensive linemen protecting Burrow on the opening drive. Reiff is the only new starter added to this unit. Rookie second-round pick Jackson Carman took the field with the second-team offense at right guard.
Taylor and Burrow reiterated the importance of banking game reps ahead of the Week 1 matchup with the Vikings for several reasons. And although it was a very small sample size, Burrow getting on the field with his teammates in a game setting and coming out untouched is a win for the Bengals.