Schefter on McAfee: Joe Burrow uncertain for MNF against the Rams (0:50)
Adam Schefter questions whether Joe Burrow will be healthy enough to play next Monday night against the Rams. (0:50)
Ben Baby, ESPN Staff WriterSep 18, 2023, 04:03 PM ET
- Ben Baby covers the Cincinnati Bengals for ESPN. He joined the company in July 2019. Prior to ESPN, he worked for various newspapers in Texas, most recently at The Dallas Morning News where he covered college sports. He provides daily coverage of the Bengals for ESPN.com, while making appearances on SportsCenter, ESPN’s NFL shows and ESPN Radio programs. A native of Grapevine, Texas, he graduated from the University of North Texas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is an adjunct journalism professor at Southern Methodist University and a member of the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA).
CINCINNATI — What seemed like a joke during the preseason isn’t all that funny.
Back in July, Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase suggested quarterback Joe Burrow skip several weeks at the start of the regular season to rest a strained right calf muscle. That prognosis was delivered a bit tongue-in-cheek, he later clarified.
But after Burrow aggravated the injury in Sunday’s 27-24 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, Chase indicated there was some truth in what he had to say about sitting Burrow early.
“I wish we would have did that [from the] jump,” Chase said Monday. “But live and learn.”
Burrow’s availability for Cincinnati’s Week 3 game against the Los Angeles Rams for ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” is “hard to say,” coach Zac Taylor said Monday. Taylor said Burrow’s calf was still sore less than 24 hours after the defeat to the Ravens.
When asked about the possibility of resting Burrow for a week or two to give him time to recover from the injury, Taylor said it depends on the advice of the medical staff.
“First of all we have to hear what the doctors have to say before we start to assume anything,” Taylor said. “Once we get that information, we have those [conversations], figure out what we’re going to do.”
Burrow aggravated the previous injury during the final drive of the Week 2 loss. After he threw a touchdown pass to wide receiver Tee Higgins, Burrow was seen limping to the sideline and working the calf with a massage gun while sitting on the bench. He and Taylor both said he would have reentered the game if Cincinnati had another offensive possession.
Burrow missed nearly six weeks of training camp after he initially suffered the strain July 27. Taylor said that leading up to the game against Baltimore, he felt great about Burrow’s health.
“I felt like he had a great week of practice last week,” Taylor said. “He’s the only one that can answer on how he truly feels, but you got the sense that it was really good.”
Taylor has daily conversations with Burrow. When asked about having to read between the lines to get a true sense of how the star quarterback is feeling, Taylor said that wasn’t necessary.
“Just take him at his word,” Taylor said.
He also reiterated his belief that the team had a solid plan for Burrow’s return to the field, saying he thought it was being handled well.
All eyes turn to the game against the Rams (1-1), which is a rematch of Super Bowl LVI, a game Los Angeles won. Cincinnati has started the season with two losses for the second straight year and the fourth time since Taylor was hired in 2019.
Last season, Cincinnati (0-2) rebounded from a similar circumstance to win the AFC North and reach the AFC Championship Game for the second straight year.
That could prove more difficult this season if Burrow is injured for an extended period. Since Burrow was drafted with the No. 1 overall pick in 2020, the Bengals are 2-5 without him.
“Like I said at the beginning of the season, health is the biggest thing for our quarterback and for the team, period,” Chase said. “Stay healthy. We are playing a long season. It’s what this whole thing was about for us.”