He was a true legend in college at LSU, but a massive knee injury slowed down his professional ascent.
At the time, it was possible he would still be recovering when the 2021 season kicked off.
Yet here we are now and Burrow is taking part in Bengals training camp.
However, he is still not at full strength and that is fair given the fact it has been around nine months since the injury took place.
To remain safe, the team is holding him out of another preseason game.
Bengals QB Joe Burrow won't play against Washington, per Zac Taylor.
— Ben Baby (@Ben_Baby) August 16, 2021
This news should not surprise anyone.
Bengals Doing The Right Thing
Burrow remains on track to become a great NFL quarterback, but the last thing the Bengals want to do is ruin his career by getting him hurt again.
That would be bad for Burrow, the team, the NFL, and the fans.
Zac Taylor needs to protect his quarterback and playing him in the preseason would not make much sense.
We always just say "torn ACL", but Joe Burrow tore his ACL and MCL *plus* had damage to his PCL and meniscus.
Week 1 is only 9 months, 21 days post-injury. Being ready for Week 1 should be considered a win. We shouldn't expect him to be near 100% for a while.
— Hayden Winks (@HaydenWinks) August 11, 2021
Other coaches around the NFL are holding out their own starting quarterbacks this preseason, and those signal-callers are healthy.
That is just the way things are trending as coaches realize a preseason injury to a key player could cost them their job.
Burrow’s focus now should be on improving at practice and being truthful about how his knee is feeling.
The Bengals are not contenders in the AFC, or even in the AFC North, so this remains another uphill battle in 2021.
Just playing until the final game of the season and putting up some nice numbers would be a good thing as the team then looks to compete in 2022.
Playing The Long Game
Drafting a quarterback at No. 1 overall is exciting because that player is seen as a generational prospect.
The downside is the fact the team likely still stinks and needs a few years to improve.
Burrow and the Bengals are in that position now and if the goal is to keep him around for at least a decade, that may involve two or three years of losing.
Doing that and easing Burrow back is better than the alternative of being impatient, getting him hurt, and starting all over again in an endless cycle.
Bengals fans surely don’t want that.
So don’t be surprised if Burrow takes zero preseason snaps.
He would join plenty of other quarterbacks around the league and this will end up being a non-story if he can return early in the season and show progression.