Bengals Pro Bowl quarterback Joe Burrow did his customary weekly news conference befitting that week’s starter in a packed Paycor Stadium interview room, but after not practicing Thursday he’s not sure he’s playing Monday night (8:15-Cincinnati’s Channel 5, ESPN) at Paycor against the Rams.
He did say his strained right calf feels better than it did when he limped off the field late in last Sunday’s game against Baltimore.
Burrow says he doesn’t have to be a full participant in practice in order to play, but he says he’ll have to be at least limited in either the Friday or Saturday practice.
“You have to practice one day. Maybe not full, but you’ve got to be running around throwing the ball,” Burrow said. “You just have to feel confident in your ability to go out and do the job. I don’t know yet. We’ll see. We’ll see how we feel the next couple of days. I don’t really have an answer for you there.”
Burrow said there haven’t been any discussions about shutting him down for a couple of games to heal the strained calf that wiped out 34 days of his preseason.
“We’re kind of taking it day by day,” Burrow said.
Burrow admitted there’s a balancing act between the short- and long-term goals and indicated it may not be his call. But very few teams make the playoffs at 0-3.
“That may not be my decision to make. My job is to go out and play. That’s what I’m preparing to do,” Burrow said. I’m preparing like I’m going to go out and play a Monday Night Football game. Whether that happens, I don’t know but I’m going to be prepared to.
“Whenever you start 0-2 it’s obviously not ideal. That’s the adversity of the season. That’s the ups and downs of the year. The teams that come out on top at the end of it are the teams that handle that adversity the best. You can’t let that snowball on you. That’s what we’ve done in the past. If you go back and look year to year to teams that are still in it at the end, everybody has adversity at some point of the year. Everybody stinks at some point, according to the media. We’re just going to sit here and continue to get better. We’re going to have good practices. We’re going to take it week-by-week and that’s all you can do.”
_We may be closing in on Jake Browning’s first NFL start, but, as he said after practice, it’s not his first rodeo. He’s in his fifth NFL season, two each on the Vikings and Bengals practice squads before winning the job in this preseason’s Burrow Backup Derby.
“I take a lot of pride in I came into this league as an undrafted guy. There’s not many handouts that are given there,” Browning said. “It took me four years and damn near a life sentence on the practice squad to take four years on doubling down, hey, at some point I’m going to get an opportunity.”
He may not have taken a game rep. But he’s taken plenty of pro reps in practice against top pros. On Thursday he talked about staring down No. 1 cornerback Chidobe Awuzie and elite slot corner
back Mike Hilton in training camp.
“Going against (the Bengals’ No. 1 defense) for the whole month of August, going down that rabbit hole of 30 days in a row, that really helped my development as a player,” Browning said. “A lot of my confidence comes from how I played against our defense in the preseason.”
_Even when he was on the practice squad, Browning took part in the Saturday night meetings and prepared as if he was going to play the next day.
“He’s as ready as I’ve ever seen him,” Burrow said. “He’s very even-keeled. He’s never too up or too down. I think that’s how you have to be as a quarterback. He’s big resource for me when I’m out there because I know that he’s so even-keeled. I know he sees the game similarly to how I do, so we have great dialogue on game day. If he’s out there is going to be great.”
_How close was Browning to hanging it up?
Two years ago after the Vikings cut him again on cut-down day and didn’t bring him back, Browning was ready to start driving to Sacramento State on a Thursday, where his high school coach was ready to give him a volunteer coaching job. He also had a feeler out to his college offensive coordinator, then at Oregon State. But on Tuesday, the Bengals called looking for a practice squadder behind Burrow and Brandon Allen.
“There were only two. I thought I had a good shot here,” Browning said.
_DE Joseph Ossai (ankle) went full while safeties Nick Scott (concussion) and Tycen Anderson (calf) went limited.
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