At least Cincinnati Bengals fans had something to cheer for in the preseason finale.
Quarterback Joe Burrow entered the game to a standing ovation from those in attendance.
Everyone invested in the squad can now take that sigh of relief after that horrific ACL, MCL, and PCL injury he suffered during his rookie season.
Before that catastrophe on his left knee, the former LSU standout was having a strong season.
Now, the Bengals can resurrect their lofty dreams with their top quarterback returning.
However, the reality must neutralize those high hopes.
Head coach Zac Taylor said that Burrow would get three snaps in their preseason game against the Miami Dolphins.
Emotionally, his return was an enormous boost to the Bengals morale.
Joe Burrow is back 👏👏👏
— PFF (@PFF) August 29, 2021
But his actions on the field didn’t reveal much about his game shape.
On his second snap, he threw a screen pass to first-round selection Ja’Marr Chase, who dropped the ball.
That was Burrow’s entire stint and he did not even play a third down because of a penalty against Miami.
Kyle Shurmur and Brandon Allen took over quarterback duties in the 29-26 loss versus the Miami Dolphins.
Yet Burrow will be starting in their Week 1 game against the Minnesota Vikings.
Judging from his preseason appearance alone, it seems like there are more questions than answers revolving around Burrow’s condition.
Sure, it’s fantastic to see him in full pads after that disastrous incident that happened in Week 10 of last season.
If that’s what they call “getting his feet wet,” it’s like the Bengals allowed Burrow to dip only his toes before pulling him out.
Besides, throwing a quick pass is not indicative of his mechanics either.
Protect The Quarterback
All players on a football team know that building a strong pocket around the quarterback gives them a better chance of winning.
This time, however, it was the coaching staff who provided that security blanket for Burrow.
They wouldn’t even let him throw an intermediate or long pass to test his knee.
Reps in practice are different from an in-game scenario and the Miami game could have been Burrow’s chance to assess if he’s ready to go full contact.
It’s not that they should have let him play one quarter.
Taylor and the coaching staff could have given him some passing plays to get his football motion back.
If he felt the heat coming from the Dolphins, he could have just taken the fall for negative yardage.
Of course, it’s always nice to see an NFL player return to action after a season-ending injury.
But his brief stint will not prevent experts from raising concerns.
Joe Burrow just threw his best deep ball of camp, floating a pass over the safeties down the right sideline.
And Ja’Marr Chase caught the ball perfectly in stride.
— Charlie Goldsmith (@CharlieG__) August 26, 2021
How exactly is he ready for Week 1 wherein everyone goes at full speed?
Is Burrow still favoring that knee or does it still bother him every time he gets the snap?
Is he comfortable going back on the field at all?
More importantly, is the Bengals offensive line up to the challenge of not letting that injury happen again?
At least the franchise had a response to whether Burrow will suit up at all.
As for their fate in the 2021 season, their star quarterback’s appearance does not offer a definitive statement.