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Quick Hits: Burrow Looks To Feel The Game Before Hitting Switch As Bengals Eye Ravens; Hendrickson Takes Field

QB Joe Burrow throws the ball during the Texans-Bengals game in Week 10 of the 2023 season at Paycor Stadium on Sunday, November 12, 2023.
QB Joe Burrow throws the ball during the Texans-Bengals game in Week 10 of the 2023 season at Paycor Stadium on Sunday, November 12, 2023.

The reports of Pro Bowl sacker Trey Hendrickson's unavailability may have been greatly exaggerated.

The pundits had Hendrickson "unlikely," Thursday night in Baltimore (8:15-Cincinati's Channel 9 and Prime Video), but it didn't look like that Tuesday night when the Bengals worked under the Paycor Stadium lights.

Hendrickson, who hyperextended his knee on a bizarre final scrimmage snap of Sunday's game, strapped on his helmet, pulled on No. 91, and went through everything everybody else did with no apparent limp. He was listed as limited for the practice, as was special teams linebacker Akeem Davis-Gaither (knee). Sam Hubbard (ankle), Hendrickson's bookend at left end, didn't practice, and neither did wide receivers Tee Higgins (hamstring) and Andrei Iosivas (knee).

BURROW TIME: The last time the Bengals played the Ravens, they had seven possessions. When they played them last year in Baltimore, they had nine. When they play them Thursday night, they don't expect to get more than that against the NFL's No. 2 defense and No. 1 running game.

But Bengals Pro Bowl quarterback Joe Burrow says the reduced possessions won't make him hit his "aggressive," switch right away.

"You've just got to feel the game out and see what it calls for," Burrow said before Tuesday's practice. "Every game calls for something different from the quarterback. We'll see how it plays out."

Everybody knows how it will go. The last two times Burrow has faced Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, the one-time NFL MVP got him by a field goal. Both are coming off tough fourth-quarter losses, but Burrow says he won't start out in the mode he finished with Sunday, when he threw two-fourth quarter interceptions.

"It depends on the situation. I tried early in my career making a lot of those plays. You try to pick your spots to make those," Burrow said. "There were spots I had to on Sunday. A lot of times you don't. A lot of times you can play in the structure of the offense and move the ball well and take advantage of what the defense is giving you.

"Then sometimes the defense is playing well and you have to flip that switch, go into aggressive mode and try to make some plays. That was one of those days."

Both Burrow interceptions Sunday came with the Bengals trailing by 10, the last one with under four minutes left was just his third red zone-pick in the last two seasons.

It was his first multi-interception game since last season's AFC title game, but the fact one of his red-zone interceptions came at the hands of Ravens safety Geno Stone earlier this season and is one of his NFL-leading six won't make Burrow throw caution to the wind. But there is a line. His career interception percentage of 2.0 is tied for third among current starting quarterback.

"In the second half, I entered aggressive mode and tried to make quite a bit of plays. Then I made a couple decisions that I probably wouldn't have made had the situation not been what it was," Burrow said of Sunday's game. "Some mistakes you'd like to have back. In the same sentence, you try to be aggressive knowing their offense is playing really well and their defense is playing well.

"You're trying to make plays. I wouldn't say I'm upset about any of the decisions that I made. Obviously you'd like to have a couple back. But for the most part, I need to get better in that situation at turning the switch on and off. Being aggressive in spots and knowing when to take the foot off the pedal."

ROLLING STONE: Burrow has his eye on the two Ravens safeties, Stone and Kyle Hamilton. Stone got him in the second game of the year in a crucial part of the game. Down 13-10, the Bengals drove to the Ravens 17 on the opening drive of the second half and Stone appeared to deke him a little bit with his positioning.

"They do a great job with him in the structure of their defense," Burrow said. "They know what quarterbacks are trying to look at to try to figure out what coverage it is, and they know exactly how to position themselves with their hips and their feet to make that hard to know. And he does a really good job."

Burrow wasn't the Burrow of now. It will be recalled this was the game he aggravated his strained calf. He did throw for two touchdowns, but only for 222 yards and his 66 percent passing (27 of 41) wasn't near the crispness of his 74% passing the past five weeks.

"I wasn't obviously feeling my best at that point. I didn't quite have my full toolbox in there," Burrow said. "I thought we did some good things in the second half. The first half we didn't have a ton of plays. They did a good job. We found some explosives in the second half. That's what we have to try to do. They do a great job of limiting those explosive plays and you have to try to find them, because they're going to do a really good job on offense keeping the ball, running it and scoring points. We're going to have to do the same."

Hamilton, taken in the same 2022 first round the Bengals took Michigan safety Dax Hill, has five career sacks, second most by a defensive back in the last two seasons. On Sunday's second play against the Browns, he deflected a pass to himself and took it 18 yards for his first NFL touchdown.

"They move him around a little bit, play some nickel, play some safety," Burrow said. "He's got really good ball skills. He made a great play last week to get some points on the board."

WEIRD WEEK: Only in the NFL is Tuesday a Friday and a Friday practice is at night on the Paycor Stadium turf, where 48 hours ago they had an excruciating loss.

"You just have to put it behind you quickly," Burrow said. "There's no time to really sit and reflect too much because coaches are starting to gameplan right after the game. And then Monday, we're right into it. Monday's a Thursday. Today's a Friday. You just have to put it behind you fast and move on. "

MEN IN BLACK. The Ravens are pumped up they're going to be in all-black uniforms. Linebacker Roquan Smith, off a 21-tackle game, thinks it suits their defense.

"I think of just physical, death row-type defense," Smith said. "That's what I think of when I see black. It's more of like, 'OK, show me what you're about, because, if not, I'm going to show you.' So, that's how I associate black in my head, honestly."

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