Joe Burrow updates health, contract situations for first time since July injury

CINCINNATI — Joe Burrow sat down in the Cincinnati Bengals’ press conference room Wednesday to answer questions for the first time since straining his calf on July 27, the second day of training camp.

Much has happened since then with Burrow engaged in contract extension talks all while rehabbing the calf.

Burrow stated he is ready and expecting to play the opener against the Cleveland Browns. Still, just as has been the case all week with head coach Zac Taylor, Burrow wouldn’t make any definitive statement until getting through the next two practices.

“We’re going to see how these next couple of days play out, because you never know with these things,” Burrow said. “I’m expecting to play.”

That was Burrow’s theme and understandably. These calf injuries are tricky. A recurrence would be the worst-case scenario and typically happens when the player thinks they are almost 100 percent and pushes too hard.

One final practice push will come Thursday as the team goes into full pads for what’s traditionally their toughest practice of any regular season week. It will allow him to earn one final level of trust in acceleration and flushing out of the pocket, before having to do so running away from Myles Garrett.

“There were good days and bad days throughout the whole process, and like I said, the process is still ongoing,” Burrow said. “(Good days) feel normal. Bad days feel a little tight. That’s what injuries are, good days and bad days and you just power on and move on.”

For how long will he have to power on? That’s to be determined, in his mind.

“We’re managing it now,” he said. “For how long that’s the case, I don’t know. I’ve never had a soft tissue injury like this before, which is part of the reason we’ve been so careful with it.”

He’s also never been through a major contract negotiation before, one that’s coming down the final days before the season starts and traditionally the Bengals have turned off contract talks.

Two points Burrow made stood out from a generally elusive dance around the topic.

First, he doesn’t feel pressured to sign a deal now. Burrow is signed through next season on a $29 million fifth-year option and will have already pocketed $36 million off his rookie contract.

“That’s gonna come,” Burrow said. “I’m gonna keep playing well. I feel great about the organization and everybody in the locker room and in the coaching staff, and so, you know, that’s the icing on the cake to me. I’m just excited to be out here.”

That’s the first time we’ve heard Burrow specifically leave open the door to just playing out the season without signing.

Still, the risk of playing before signing for what is expected to be the richest deal in NFL history would be the unknown of a potential injury.

“Those are all the things that you think about, right?” Burrow said. “But I feel like I’m in the position that I’m in because I love playing football. I work really hard to put myself in a really good position to go out and be successful. And that’s just what I enjoy doing. I wouldn’t be myself if I wasn’t able to do that. I’m not going to let the business side of things take that away from me.”


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This leads to the final point and Burrow saying all the things the Bengals’ brass and fans would want to hear.

“This is where I want to be,” Burrow said. “This is where I want to be my whole career. We’re working toward making that happen. You’ve seen what the front office has done and what Zac (Taylor) has done in their time here. I’m a small part of that. I’m excited to be a part of that. And we have great people in the locker room that grind every day, that are excited to go and showcase their talents and excited to go and do it in the city of Cincinnati. We have the best fans and so this is where I want to be.”

He wants to be here. The Bengals want him here. They’ve come this far, the onus now turns to the Bengals to find a way to get the deal for their franchise quarterback to the finish line.

(Photo: Katie Stratman / USA Today)

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