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NFL Draft

Joe Burrow’s Preseason Debut: 3 Things We Need To See

  • The Draft Network
  • August 25, 2021
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Cincinnati Bengals fans, rejoice. Starting quarterback Joe Burrow will play a limited amount of snaps in the team’s third and final preseason game against the Miami Dolphins, per head coach Zac Taylor. The game is scheduled to take place on Sunday, Aug. 29, and just became must-watch TV for those of us who have been eagerly anticipating Burrow’s return to the field. As for how much Burrow will feature, Taylor was pretty clear regarding what priority No. 1 will be.

“We’ll be smart with what we do,” Taylor said.

We’re super excited to see Burrow in a live-action contest for the first time since he suffered a horrific knee injury during last year’s Week 11 meeting with the Washington Football Team. With that said, let’s examine three things we’d love to see from Burrow on Sunday.


Well, duh. This might not be the exciting topic you came here looking for, but it will certainly be the most vital one for everyone in Cincinnati. Burrow’s knee injury was about as nightmarish as it gets. He tore both his ACL and MCL, while also doing damage to his PCL and meniscus. Burrow endured a slow and steady rehab process following the required surgery to repair the significant damage done. The Bengals must feel great about where Burrow is from a health perspective or else they wouldn’t be risking him in a preseason contest. It’s of the utmost importance for all involved that it stays that way.


Half the battle of returning from an injury as horrific as the one suffered by Burrow sometimes involves getting out of your own head. Burrow has admitted to struggling with some self-confidence issues as of late.

“It’s frustrating right now, more so just not feeling like myself”, Burrow said via Ben Baby of ESPN. “I know I’ve put in the work to make my knee feel good, make my body feel ready for the season. It’s just now trusting my abilities, trusting my work, trusting everything.”

Burrow will face his first real test on Sunday. In May and June, the Bengals didn’t allow him to line up under center, in hopes of preventing him from crossing feet with an offensive lineman. Burrow was then cleared to participate in training camp in late July, but your own teammates aren’t going to really test your return from injury. Burrow has said his knee is fine, but will now get a chance to prove he really believes it. 

Burrow has taken some good practice reps as of late, but things will be different once the bullets start to fly on Sunday. That’s when Burrow has to demonstrate he’s mentally ready to return. How Burrow reacts to that first hit, sack, takedown, or whatever physical form of contact he may endure against the Miami Dolphins will tell us a lot about where he’s at from a mental standpoint.


Let me make this clear: Burrow is an incredibly accurate quarterback. Accuracy has never been an issue for the former Heisman winner. Burrow completed more than 65% of his passes as a rookie and posted an absolutely ridiculous 76.3% completion percentage during his record-breaking 2019 season at LSU. But reports out of training camp have indicated that Burrow has grappled with accuracy (among other things) while trying to get back into the swing of things.

Look, nobody should be surprised that Burrow hasn’t exactly hit the ground running this summer. Some rust is to be expected after such a long layoff and strenuous rehab process. That’s just the way it works. The Bengals’ coaches and fan base may have to accept some early-season struggles. Progress is the name of the game here. A good performance on Sunday would go a long way to calming the concerns he currently has right now.

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