There’s great news pouring out almost daily regarding the status of Joe Burrow. As the Cincinnati Bengals begin to look forward to mandatory minicamp in June, they do so having seen the return of the 2020 first overall pick to the field in OTAs after witnessing him suffer a gruesome knee injury in Week 11 that ended his otherwise impressive NFL debut. Burrow required reconstructive knee surgery after tearing both the ACL and MCL in his left knee, and while he’s not yet 100 percent, he’s close — listed as “all systems go” for Week 1 against the Minnesota Vikings.
And as he ramps up over the next several weeks for his official return to football, Burrow does so with one goal in mind. No, it’s not to simply get back on the field, because that’s a given. It’s instead to come back better and more exciting than he was as a rookie.
He’s been feverishly dissecting his own game film in his downtime, looking for areas of improvement.
“There was some good and some bad,” Burrow told Albert Breer of SI.com. “I’d like to be more explosive. And I think I was really good in quick-game situations. On fourth down, we were really good. Empty [set], we were really good.
“But we need to be more explosive with play-action passes. All of our downfield passing needs to improve. I just wasn’t as accurate as I was the year before down the field. And that was frustrating to me, because I’ve always been a good down-the-field thrower.”
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Helping him regain the down-the-field accuracy he’s referencing from his championship and Heisman-winning year at LSU in 2019 will be former collegiate teammate Ja’Marr Chase — the wide receiver getting the call as the Bengals first-round pick in 2021. Chase not only presents Burrow with a dynamic weapon at receiver, but also a familiar one, and that rekindling should go a long way in seeing the Bengals offense take the next step forward. But, for Burrow, it’s more about looking inward than outward, knowing the latter will likely improve once the former does.
“Just getting back to the basics of that, really focusing on my fundamentals,” he added. “I just started running and throwing a few weeks ago, so standing and throwing, and focusing on the fundamentals helped.”
And what specifically has he been doing to help in that goal?
“Just getting my hips stronger through my rehab has gotten a ton more velocity on my ball,” he said. “I’ve been very happy with that.”
There’s a good chance the Bengals will be too in a few months from now.