Joe Burrow doesn’t want to get ahead of himself or the long journey he has to get back on the football field.
But with each growing day he feels more and more optimistic about where he is in his recovery from in-season ACL surgery that cost him the second half of his rookie season. Burrow has been hard at work and the consistent message throughout the rehab process is that he’s been ahead of schedule.
In a recent interview on the Pro Football Focus podcast with Cris Collinsworth, Burrow said he feels like he’s still on pace to be ready for week one of the 2021 season.
“I'm very optimistic about where I'm at and also where the team is at," Burrow said. "Rehab is going very, very well and lifting is going very, very well. I'm in great shape. Legs feel good, knee feels good. There's still a long way to go, but I'm expecting to be there on the first snap of 2021.
"I'm expecting to play game one. I expect to take part in practice. I'm feeling really good. I'm ahead of schedule."
His workouts right now primarily consist of lifting weights and running. The one part of his rehab he hasn’t been able to do much of yet is throwing the football. He can’t roll out or put a ton of extra strain on that knee at the moment but he is doing drop backs and throwing to equipment managers.
Of course a lot of the offseason talk around the Cincinnati Bengals has been centered around getting Burrow some more protection up front. They signed offensive tackle Riley Reiff in free agency but the real question has come with what the organization will do with the No. 5 pick.
Burrow said that because of a few of the holes filled up front during free agency, he thinks the team can take the best player available at next week’s NFL Draft.
"I trust the organization to do what they do and do their jobs and pick the best player," Burrow said. "I think we're in a good spot to take just the best available. Especially after the free agency we had.”
Of course the major question in terms of the draft is whether or not they will draft his teammate Ja’Marr Chase or go with an offensive lineman like Oregon’s Penei Sewell. One of the areas that the Bengals struggled with in 2020 was connecting on deep balls, something that Chase and Burrow did extremely well in 2019 at LSU.
Burrow was asked what his thoughts are about the potential reunion with Chase and gave a detailed account of just how good Chase is.
"I didn't watch the pro day. I know what Ja'Marr can do. I didn't have to watch the pro day," Burrow said. "He's a lot like me. He was in there every Saturday with me throwing, getting up early. He's that kind of guy. He's a great person, great dude, great player. He and I got along very (well).
"Certain receivers just have a way of getting separation at the top of the route. Whether they're accelerating past them or they get a little push, whatever it is, he's got that receiver ability to just run past people. He ran a 4.38 I think it was, but I didn't expect it. Nobody is catching him, though. He just has a great way of getting open. He has a great feel for zone, great feel for man. He's a complete player."