Joe Burrow stunned the pundits Monday night by not going on injured reserve or the inactive list and instead appeared to draw the start against the Rams on Ring of Honor night at Paycor Stadium.
With Burrow one of three active quarterbacks, he’s assumed to be starting his 45th NFL game.
The Bengals listed Burrow questionable all week with the calf injury that all but wiped out his training camp and head coach Zac Taylor stayed true to his word when he waited 90 minutes before game time. Even then, there was just the release of his inactives and with Burrow not among them the deduction was he was the starter because earlier in the week Taylor said it was doubtful Burrow would be active if he wasn’t going to play.
Not only was Burrow active, so was backup Jake Browning and Reid Sinnett, elevated to the active roster from the practice squad four hours before the game
It’s been quite a journey over the last eight days, starting when Burrow limped off the field after throwing a four-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Tee Higgins with 3:26 left in Sunday’s game against the Ravens. Somehow he threw it off his strained right calf as he scrambled away from pressure, but it was enough to throw the Bengals into a week of doubt.
Burrow had an extra day of rest with a Monday night game and he got another one when he didn’t practice Thursday. Burrow went limited Friday and Saturday all the while Taylor saying he was feeling better.
Burrow said in his news conference last week he needed only one limited practice to be ready and he got two.
“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 admitted Thursday 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.”
It just so happened Burrow was channeling a little Boomer Esiason on the night the 1988 NFL MVP and Chad Johnson, the franchise’s all-time leading receiver, were inducted into the Ring of Honor.
Esiason was nearly deactive for the Oct. 1, 1989 game in Kansas City with a sprained ankle and backup Turk Schonert got the start. But Schonert sprained his ankle on the sixth play, Esiason limped backed in and gutted out a 152-yard passing day and 77 passer rating in a 21-17 win that included a 40-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Tim McGee.
SLANTS AND SCREENS: With tight end Irv Smith Jr. inactive with a hamstring issue, tight end Tanner Huson was elevated from the practice squad …
Marvin Lewis made his way on the Paycor Stadium turf before the game for the first time since he coached his last game here at the end of his 16th season in 2018. Three of the four players still remaining that he coached that were on the field, wide receiver Tyler Boyd, running back Joe Mixon and defensive tackle Josh Tupou, came over to hug him and chat …
Lewis is here for Chad Johnson’s ROH induction and planned to sit with former Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer …
Inactive along with Irv Smith Jr., in the that-didn’t-take-long -category was running back Chris Evans, replaced by rookie Chase Brown for the second straight game. A casualty of going with three quarterbacks looked to be the inactive wide receiver Trenon Irwin. With the Rams 23rd in rushing, defensive tackle Jay Tufele was inactive for the first time this season. As they have been all season, offensive linemen Jackson Carman and Trey Hill were inactive …
As the Bengals won the toss and elected to receive, Esiason, wearing Burrow’s No. 9, and Johnson, wearing Ja’Marr Chase’s No. 1, performed Ruler of the Jungle duties…
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