CINCINNATI — Safety Jessie Bates emerged as the Bengals' best defensive player in 2020.
The 23-year-old finished with 109 tackles, a career-high 15 passes defensed and three interceptions. He became a team leader and was one of their most consistent players.
Cincinnati's future could be bright with a defensive star like Bates at safety and No. 1 pick Joe Burrow leading the way on offense.
Bates is sold on the Bengals quarterback, even though Burrow only appeared in 10 games as a rookie. From his leadership to his work ethic, Burrow has won over his teammates and coaches.
What's unique about the 24-year-old?
"I would say his demeanor. How he just comes into work," Bates said during an appearance on the Jim Rome Show. "Burrow did a really good job of just coming in and gaining the respect of not just the coaches, but the players in the locker room as well. I'm pretty sure every guy on the offensive side during training camp was like 'hey, we got a decent dude over here.' All our defensive guys were just talking stuff like 'we'll see during training camp.' In that short period of time throughout training camp I just saw how prepared he was mentally and physically. The way he was just getting through his progressions and stuff like that. And last thing is obviously his confidence is out the roof. And it's a reason why it's like that. It's because of his preparation and where he's come from. He's a very gritty guy. I'm in love with him for sure."
That's high praise from Bates, who is actually two months younger than Burrow. Bates won't be 24 until Feb. 26. Burrow turned 24 on Dec. 10.
All eyes will be on Burrow's left knee over the next few months. He's still rehabbing and recovering after suffering a torn ACL and MCL in Week 11 against Washington.
Burrow is expected to start throwing next month. He's also expected to be cleared to run on the underwater treadmill sometime in the next few weeks.
"He'll be back, I'm sure healthy as ever Week 1," Bates said. "Very excited for that."
Listen to Rome's entire interview with Bates below.
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