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Burrow looking forward to 'normal' offseason and training camp

Joe Burrow and Tee Higgins at the NFL Offseason Workout Program in Cincinnati on May 16, 2023. (WKRC)
Joe Burrow and Tee Higgins at the NFL Offseason Workout Program in Cincinnati on May 16, 2023. (WKRC)
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CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Quarterback Joe Burrow has done some pretty amazing things for the Bengals in his first three seasons despite never having either a normal offseason or training camp and he doesn't want to jinx that.

When a reporter asked Burrow on Tuesday what it would be like to have a full, healthy offseason and prefaced it with it being a "knock on wood thing," Burrow cut him off with a chuckle and responded, "We said that last year."

After dealing with no offseason workouts with teammates as a rookie in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and then a weird training camp with no preseason games because of that as well, he spent the 2021 offseason recovering from major knee surgery and then struggled early in that year's camp as he tested the knee.

It looked like he was headed for a normal training camp last season only to have an appendectomy just prior to camp starting and then not getting cleared to practice until Aug. 17.

Burrow and his teammates have returned to the practice field this week as part of the NFL Offseason Workout Program and the quarterback said he feels better and stronger than ever and is looking forward to what it will mean to have a normal offseason and then training camp.

"Having a full offseason and a full training camp is so beneficial in so many ways," said Burrow. "It's not really something that I've had yet. I'm excited to hopefully have that this year and be able to make those strides in camp where last year I was just trying to get back to where I was pre-camp. I'm excited to find that improvement during those 4-6 weeks when I haven't really had that yet."

Burrow spent time since the season ended working out with personal trainer Dak Notestine, who he has known since high school, and feels better than he did prior to the appendectomy last season.

"I'm feeling really good," said Burrow. "I feel strong. I feel stable. I feel grounded. I'm excited about how my body is feeling. I have a great trainer that really thinks about my body and watches my game and understands what part of my body can get stronger and get more stable. I'm really lucky to have Dak (Notestine). I've been training with him since I was in high school, so he really understands my body and what I need to do to improve and stay at this level."

The added strength has helped him increase his passing velocity once again, as well.

"I feel like that's getting better every year," said Burrow. "I try to improve every area of my game every offseason. It's not like I go into an off season - there's obviously specific things that you want to work on, but as a whole, I'm working on every part of my game, every part of my body to just improve it all and that hopefully will, in turn, create more consistency and make me a better player."

He said he had the best year of his brief career last season, especially in better understanding when to take a check down, when to take a chance, when to take a sack and when to avoid taking a sack by throwing the ball away.

"I think I've improved every year and still a lot of room to grow," said Burrow. "There is always room to improve every offseason, every game, every week. You just try to find a way to get better every year."

It's beneficial, too, that wide receiver Tee Higgins opted to attend the workouts, which are voluntary, despite not landing a contract extension yet, and standout wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase is on hand. Veteran slot receiver Tyler Boyd was not seen on Tuesday, but he has plenty of reps with Burrow under his belt.

"Just having your starting quarterback out there the whole time, working on that connection, getting better at different types of throws, it's going to be great," said Higgins. "We're like this now (Higgins crossed his fingers). I can't ask for a better connection than all of us got with Joe, me, Tyler and Chase. You can't ask for nothing better."

Said Chase: "This is the first time we were trying to set up stuff like throwing in the offseason. I know we did it a little bit last year, but we just got to get throwing in the summer time. I know he works out (elsewhere), but the majority of the time he's up here. It will happen again, it's just something we always do to stay on top of the roster, stay on top of connections and stuff like that."

Burrow believes every rep even in OTAs and spontaneous offseason meetings is beneficial.

"You rep these routes and these things in individual (drill), whether it's certain off schedule (plays) or a play or a throw or an arm slot or a pocket movement that you've got," said Burrow. "You never know when it's going to come up in a game and when defensive linemen win in certain ways and your body is in a different way. Every play is unique, so you really have to have your imagination and training in the offseason to prepare yourselves for those moments, because in a three-step drop you have to throw the out route every time, but that's not the reality in the NFL. You're gonna have to have some imagination in the offseason by yourself with your guys on air to make those reps count."

Those reps may also be the thing that lands the Bengals a Super Bowl title after coming up just short the last couple of seasons.

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"We know what it takes to get there," said Burrow. "We've been there, done that, haven't quite gotten over that last hump yet and so that's where we're headed. Whatever we got to do to make that happen, whether it's, you never know what day in the offseason or what thing you worked on is going to end up helping your guys make that last play in that last game to get you over that hump. So you got to stay disciplined and maintain your work ethic through the entire offseason, because like I said, you never know what opportunity you're going to be put in to make that play."

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