Burrow's Back: Three Thoughts on Day One of Bengals OTAs

There are plenty of Bengals' storylines to monitor over the next few weeks.
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CINCINNATI — Joe Burrow is back. Well, sort of. 

The 24-year-old practiced for the first time since suffering a torn ACL and MCL in November. 

Burrow still isn't 100% healthy, but getting back on the field bodes well for his chances of being ready for the Bengals' season opener against the Vikings in September.

"It feels good. It felt really good today," Burrow said. "(My knee) is about 80 to 85% now. We had some strength tests done and all that showed about 85% compared to the right leg, so we’re on pace. We’re looking really good. Just got to keep strengthening it. At this point, there are not a lot of things that I can’t do. It’s just getting it stronger."

Burrow's upper body looks stronger than it did last season. The former No. 1 overall pick stole the show on day one of OTAs, but he wasn't the only story worth following. 

Here are three non-Burrow related thoughts from Tuesday's practice. 

Dropsies

Rookie wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase looked fast, strong and explosive on Tuesday, but he did have multiple drops throughout the day. 

The 21-year-old didn't haul in Burrow's first pass of practice. He also dropped a slant that hit him right in the hands and failed to make an over-the-shoulder catch in the end zone. 

This wasn't an issue for Chase at Bengals rookie minicamp earlier this month. The fifth overall pick stayed after practice to get more work in with Burrow. 

"It was a little rusty at first but we got it back," Burrow said when asked about his chemistry with Chase. "Stayed after practice a little bit, got some extra ones. We got it back pretty quick."

This shouldn't be a concern yet. Every player as a bad day of practice, but it is worth noting just in case Chase continues to have drop issues.

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Earn It

Plenty of people, including myself, have penciled in second round pick Jackson Carman at right guard, but he didn't get first-team reps on Tuesday. 

The 46th overall selection was playing behind Xavier Su'a-Filo, who got the nod at right guard. Quinton Spain lined up at left guard. 

“Day one was really about individual work. But again, there is no depth chart per se right now. None of that stuff matters during these OTA’s," Bengals head coach Zac Taylor said. "Everyone needs to be able to play a couple of different positions on the line. Some of those rookies get in there and have earned their opportunities. We have a lot of veterans that have done things the right away and they’re going to get opportunities to play as well. Day one you saw a lot of those young linemen, they’re rotating in there and they’re going to get their chances. Again, they gotta continue to earn their way up there.”

It's not out of the ordinary for veterans to get the nod, especially in May. Once upon a time a rookie named Joe Mixon was third on the Bengals' depth chart behind Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard. 

Carman will get a chance to prove himself. The next few weeks are about getting comfortable with the scheme so he can properly execute his assignments in training camp.

Full Participation and Health

It was great to see every player on the Bengals' roster show up for voluntary OTAs. New faces like Trey Hendrickson and Mike Hilton were there, along with Riley Reiff and everyone in between.  

Trey Hopkins (knee) didn't participate in practice, but he was able to workout on the rehab field. Hopkins will be the Bengals' starting center if he can get cleared before Week 1. He suffered a torn ACL against the Ravens in January. 

DJ Reader and Renell Wren are both making their way back from season-ending quad injuries. Both guys worked out on the rehab field and are expected to be ready for training camp. 

Trae Waynes was practicing with his teammates after missing all of 2020 with a torn pectoral muscle. The Bengals are banking on the 28-year-old to lead their cornerback room. 

Joe Mixon (foot) and CJ Uzomah (Achilles) were both full participants in practice after appearing in just eight games combined last season. 

Bonus: Size Matters

A lot of people have noticed how much bigger Burrow's upper body looked in a recent workout video, but another second-year player might've improved his physique even more. 

Tee Higgins looked big, fast and explosive on Tuesday. It looks like he added muscle, without losing any of his speed. Check out video of Higgins, Burrow, Chase and Tyler Boyd below. 

Make sure you bookmark AllBengals for the latest Bengals news from OTA's, minicamp and more!

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