Burrow questions 'mortality' as wrist recovers

CINCINNATI — Joe Burrow remained excited for the challenge of coming back from a wrist injury that ended his 2023 season.

But as the injuries accumulate in his career, the fifth-year Cincinnati Bengals quarterback opened up about the mental aspect of continually recovering from significant injuries, with the wrist issue the latest one he has to overcome.

“Whenever the injuries start to stack up, your football mortality kind of comes into the back of your mind,” Burrow said after Tuesday’s mandatory minicamp. “So, that’s definitely something I’ve thought about and something I have had to fight through.”

Burrow said it was tough to put a percentage on where he is at as he continues to come back from surgery in December that repaired torn ligaments in his throwing wrist. However, Burrow indicated he’ll be “ready to go by the season.”

In his comments Tuesday, the quarterback who signed a five-year, $275 million extension last year maintained a message he has repeated throughout the offseason. As he prepares for the upcoming season and the start of training camp in late July, Burrow is trying to balance the intensity of his preparation with being rested for the start of the year.

Last week, Bengals coach Zac Taylor said the team established rest days for Burrow during the offseason program. He did not throw during the OTA practice open to the media on June 4.

Burrow said the approach has been great and is part of finding that balance.

“That’s something we’re being more proactive about this year,” Burrow said. “We don’t have to be ready to go in the middle of June. We have to be ready to go early September through February.

“That’s how we’re attacking this offseason and this rehab plan and these practices and training camp. We’re attacking it like I want to be out there playing in February.”

Part of Burrow’s growth this offseason, he said, is changing a mindset that took pride in pushing through injuries and playing through pain. Burrow cited the strained right calf he suffered at the start of last training camp as the catalyst for the shift in his mentality. After suffering the injury on the second day of camp, he returned five weeks later to start the regular season. However, he reaggravated the injury in Week 2. In hindsight, Burrow said he didn’t handle it the right way and should have taken more time to recover.

“Whenever you fight through adversity and come out on the other side it definitely gives you a feeling of invincibility at times,” Burrow said. “Obviously, you know that is not the case. So, it’s always a balancing act. That’s what this offseason has been about for me.”

Burrow said he has the rest of his time between now and the start of training camp planned out. Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins, who has yet to sign his franchise tag, was not part of the team’s mandatory minicamp. Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase was present Tuesday but didn’t participate in any drills aside from the team’s walkthrough. Chase, who is seeking a contract extension, did not speak to reporters Tuesday.

But despite the contract limbo for his top receivers and all of the questions about his recovery, both internal and external, Burrow is embracing the task ahead of him and the team this season.

“I’m built for it,” Burrow said. “Our team is built for it, and people that I have surrounded myself with have been through it with me as well.

“I’m excited about the season. I’m excited about what we are going to do. I’m excited about what we have in the locker room.”

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