Joe Burrow showing concerning signs at Bengals training camp

Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports
Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports /

Bengals fans are hopeful for the return of Joe Burrow from his season-ending injury as a rookie but the quarterback is displaying concerning signs in camp.

Before he suffered a season-ending ACL tear as a rookie, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow was inspiring hope in the fanbase. The former Heisman Trophy winner looked the part of a No. 1 overall pick and was playing at a high level right out of the gate, also getting better as the season went on.

Optimistically, there has been nothing that we’ve seen so far to suggest that Burrow won’t be ready for the start of the 2021 season. He’s promised that he would be and is on track to live up to that guarantee. However, what’s been happening with the quarterback in training camp thus far has been a bit concerning.

At Tuesday’s practice at Bengals training camp (the first in pads), Jay Morrison and Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic (subscription required) reported that Burrow simply didn’t look right, saying plainly, “It’s just not good right now.”

The second-year quarterback not only made some bad throws but reportedly appeared to be protecting his knee whenever the pass rush — though they’re coached not to touch him — got near him. Beyond that, he also completed just 5-of-12 passes and had only a single completion over 10 yards.

That’s not the player we saw as a rookie. Burrow was fearless, aggressive, accurate and so many more positive attributes. From what’s being said about the first padded practice, he doesn’t look like that right now.

Joe Burrow shouldn’t be written off in training camp but it’s something Bengals fans should be watching.

Stating the obvious, Joe Burrow is coming back from a serious knee injury. Even if he’s medically cleared, we often underrate the mental rigors of playing such a physical sport after a player has suffered such an injury. So it’s not unnatural for Burrow to be experiencing this. Plus, being out in his recovery has likely led to some rust.

Because of that, we shouldn’t be quick to write off the quarterback entering his second season by any means. These are things that he could shake off with more reps both in practice and, eventually, in the preseason. That’s not remotely out of the realm of possibility.

Having said that, this is something to monitor. Fans lambasted the Bengals last season for their porous offensive line and they’ve only marginally improved that position group coming into 2021. If Burrow is lacking confidence in his knee and his line, that could be a recipe for erratic and poor decision-making.

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This isn’t necessarily a reason for fans in Cincinnati to start panicking already. Again, it’s early in training camp and things could improve for Joe Burrow. However, there is enough concern mounting that Bengals fans should be monitoring his progression in his return from injury quite closely.