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Quick Hits: Burrow Nostalgia; Early Father's Day; A Captain's Endorsement; Emergency Snapper Wings It; Myles Murphy Taming Bengals Playbook

Joe Burrow and his father Jimmy walk during OTAs at Kettering Health Practice Field on Tuesday, June 6 2023.
Joe Burrow and his father Jimmy walk during OTAs at Kettering Health Practice Field on Tuesday, June 6 2023.

Even a coach who has watched Joe Burrow throw footballs since he was also taking snaps in the secondary can still tingle when Burrow rips off another one as the Bengals Pro Bowl quarterback.

Such as Athens High School head coach Nathan White did Tuesday as a guest at the voluntary workout on the Kettering Health Practice Fields.

White, the Athens offensive coordinator during Burrow's Ohio Mr. Football season that put the Bulldogs in the Div. III state title game, watched Burrow lead the Bengals through the second of this week's three 90-minute OTA sessions.

"It's strange," said White, watching the NFL's reigning all-time completion percentage leader. "Half of it is, 'Ah, there's Joe. The same guy I've known forever.' The other half is you watch him throw and run and he's so much bigger and stronger and every part of his game is better. But to the guys who coached him and played with him, he's just, 'Joe.'"

During the pandemic summer of 2020, Burrow's rookie season, the only place he could throw was at Joe Burrow Stadium to the socially distant Luehrman twins, his former high school teammates then playing tight end at Ohio University.  After unlocking the gate, White would hold the play sheet as Burrow practiced saying the plays  before White snapped the ball. On Tuesday, White proudly watched Burrow command the huddle.

"His ability to get the ball out so quickly with so much juice on it is something he didn't have in high school," White said. "He can have that thing out in less than a second. His arm strength and delivery, I love watching him make every throw. It's pretty cool to see him up close and personal."

And that's from a guy that used to see him throw every day up close and personal.

TOP ENDORSEMENT: The Bengals were one of eight teams to vote against the new rule that puts the ball on the 25-yard line after fair catches on kickoffs, a move that was endorsed by their incumbent special teams captain.

Thomas and Patriots perennial Pro Bowl special teamer Matthew Slater spoke for the players in what proved to be a futile conference call among leading specialists and special teams coaches.

"He is somebody I look up to," Thomas said of teaming up with Slater. "(The call) was a little too late."

Those on the call were pretty much in unanimity, but the owners still passed it, 24-8.

"You want to keep that play in the game," Thomas said after Tuesday's practice. "It's exciting for the fans, it can change the momentum for your team, it's a fun play.

"Football is a collision sport. Clearly, one concussion is too many. But if you say you want to eliminate all concussions, you're going to have to say you don't want to play football anymore. I don't think the kickoff is the most dangerous play in the NFL. Anybody who is going by the numbers can manipulate the data to push whatever narrative they want to show what is dangerous and what is not."

Thomas, 33, four years younger than Slater, believes the players proved they know what they need for safety when they worked with the league to revamp kickoff rules in the previous decade, starting in 2011. Complicating things, Thomas said, is identifying what a concussion is in the wake of a report only eight of the 19 reported concussions last year on kickoffs could be seen on film.

"We've made changes to the kickoff that have definitely helped make the game safer," Thomas said. "Eliminated the wedge, having a one-step run-up, not being able to trap block, not being able to double team before a certain line, not having as many guys set up in the 40-yard zone. All those have helped eliminate big injuries and concussions.

"I just felt the players and coaches wanted that opportunity to show we can get that number back down. It had been trending down over the years. Last year it spiked up for other factors. The way you even spotted a concussion and what you saw a concussion even was and I think the leaders around the league felt the same way and were willing to put our names on it. We'll figure it out. We'll adjust."

FATHER's DAY: Two other guests on Tuesday have become old friends. Fresh off participating in Monday's golf tournament for Burrow's foundation at Coldstream Country Club, his father Jimmy Burrow, and Jimmy Chase the father of wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase, were together again watching practice.

They became friends when their sons broke in at LSU together ("Came up at the same time, experiencing the same thing," Chase says), but Burrow believes they've become closer since the guys reunited in Cincinnati two years ago.

"We always have to make sure we see each other before the game," Chase says. "We began doing that when we started winning and going to the Super Bowl."

"That's a big thing with the wives," Burrow says. "Jimmy's wife Toleah and my wife Robin are kind of superstitious, so we try to make sure we see them at the tailgate."

Both couples travel to many of the games and Joe and Ja'Marr live close to each other in Cincy, so there have been dinners together and some good times. The picture of the two dads smoking cigars after winning the AFC title in Kansas City has become a Bengals icon.

"I think he likes cigars more than I do," Burrow says. "I guess just special occasions for me."

When Ja'Marr got the call to join Joe in Cincy with the fifth pick of the 2021 draft, Jimmy Chase embraced the national championship reunion.

"Joe Burrow, I knew, would be good for him," Chase said. "I'm sold on Zac (Taylor). Zac has a way of doing things. The organization has a new way of doing things. Things are falling into place and I'm buying into it."

Chase, who raised Ja'Marr on the outskirts of New Orleans, believes his new home fits his son like that orange No. 1.

"It's a perfect spot for Ja'Marr. Cincinnati is more of his speed," Chase said. "It's even keel, medium-paced. Ja'Marr doesn't rah-rah. He's not running the streets and the clubs and stuff like that. He can just stay home and chill. Cincinnati is a big-small town. New Orleans is a big town and it's not small."

Cincy is also a spot that has immortalized him on a Jeff Ruby menu: Shrimp & Griddy: Ja'Marr's BBQ Shrimp & Cajun Spiced Grits & Smoked Sausage.

Jimmy Chase has sampled it, as well as the Steak Burrow. He likes them both, but his favorite just might be the Steak (Cris) Collinsworth.

"You're right," he said. "Another receiver."

SNAP TO IT: Evan McPherson made all six field goals at the end of Tuesday's practice with long snapper Cal Adomitis sitting out team drills with a foot injury. Backup tight end Tanner Hudson, who couldn't long-snap in college at Southern Arkansas because he was the punter, did the duties after a crash course the past few weeks.

"Actually, Coach (tight ends coach James) Casey volunteered to do it and I said, 'I think I can do it,'" said Hudson, a fifth-year player who joined the Bengals practice squad late last season. "All the specialists have helped me out."

Hudson has played 437 snaps and 33 games in the NFL with Tampa Bay, the 49ers, and the Giants and the last time he can remember long snapping was at his pro day coming out of college five years ago at the Michael Johnson Performance Center. He did the punting drill last week.

"I think Tanner did a great job when you realize he just started doing it," Adomitis said. "I gave him a few tips and he tried a few things."

Adomitis, with his foot in a boot, still snapped Tuesday when McPherson kicked in the stadium before they went back across the street for the finishing kicks. He said if this were the season, he could still snap but they want to back him off in the team stuff so he'll be 100 percent for training camp.

It was good work for punters Drue Chrisman and Brad Robbins, who also did well negotiating holds for an inexperienced snapper. Robbins, the sixth-rounder from Michigan, made a particularly deft play when he snagged a high one and got it down in time.

"That's what Money Mac does," Robbins said. "He makes them."

Join first round draft pick DE Myles Murphy as he visits Paycor Stadium for the first time.

SLANTS AND SCREENS: With safety Nick Scott held out as he rehabs from offseason shoulder surgery, third-rounder Jordan Battle got in a bunch of reps and continues to impress with his polished play. Scott says he could be cleared for training camp by now, but it's just a matter of getting back to Los Angeles to get checked by the surgeon, Rams team doctor Neal ElAttrache …

No. 1 pick Myles Murphy isn't exactly bowled over by the playbook as he takes snaps on the edge.

"At Clemson, we played a 4-3, 3-4, over, under, Bear, three-man front, dime, a little bit of everything," Murphy said. "It's a little bit simpler here and I'm learning it a little faster than I did at Clemson and that's been a big benefit."

Not much has surprised Murphy. Only this: "Everyone here has real talent. I'm used to college, where you've got elite guys, guys that are content and guys that are still finding themselves. Here, everyone knows what they've got."

Especially guys like the ultra-competitive Trey Hendrickson, one of the guys he'll back up. "The second or third day, he challenged me on take-offs (to see who got off the ball quickest). Very competitive guy."

The thing is, Hendrickson challenges everybody. Told Hendrickson has the fourth most sacks in this decade (35.5), Murphy said, "That makes sense."

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