CINCINNATI — The Bengals have high expectations for Joe Burrow and Tee Higgins this season.
Both second-year players flashed their potential as rookies. Now the organization is hoping the duo can take another step forward in 2021.
The Bengals aren't the only ones with high expectations. Pro Football Focus have Burrow and Higgins at the top of their list of "second-year breakout" candidates.
"This duo could’ve easily enjoyed a breakout season in 2020, but Joe Burrow's season-ending knee injury in Week 11 against Washington derailed those plans," Zach Tantillo wrote. "Before he went down, Burrow showed flashes of strong quarterback play. He led the NFL in 300-yard passing games (five) through Week 8, but an injury-riddled offensive line led to some inconsistency from the former No. 1 pick. He was pressured 146 times in Weeks 1-11—fifth-most—and recorded a 44.9 PFF grade under pressure compared to an 86.7 mark from a clean pocket. A healthy offensive line and a few offensive additions should set up Burrow for a Year 2 breakout.
"There are few receivers getting as much breakout buzz as Tee Higgins. Bengals teammates and coaches have raved about his improvement this offseason, and following the departure of former star wideout A.J. Green, he is primed to explode in 2021. PFF’s projections forecast Higgins to rack up more receiving yards (1,172) than Michael Thomas, Julio Jones and Allen Robinson II in 2021."
Burrow is progressing nicely from his torn ACL. He's expected to be ready for the start of the season.
Higgins looks noticeably stronger and more explosive, according to multiple teammates. There's no reason why he can't top the 1,000-yard mark in 2021 after finishing with 908 receiving yards last season.
Check out Tantillo's entire list of second-year breakout candidates here.
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