Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow has become one of the faces of the NFL by playing a grand total of three preseason snaps and throwing one pass. The way Bengals head coach Zac Taylor sounded Monday, don't look for that number to grow.
"Yeah, that would be great," Taylor said after practice when asked if he'll just take some practice snaps at some point before the Sept. 11 opener against the Steelers at Paul Brown Stadium.
Taylor recalls what happened last year when he designed three plays for him in the Aug. 29 preseason finale at PBS against the Dolphins. His lone pass was a disastrous melee of an incomplete screen pass that resulted in right tackle Riley Reiff's unnecessary roughness penalty.
That was it. Two weeks later Burrow completed 20 of 27 passes against Mike Zimmer's Vikings with a career-best passer rating of 128.8 and the Bengals were off with an overtime win.
"Do I need to see him? No. Has any decision been made on how much to play these guys? No," Taylor said. "He threw one screen last year I think for a negative 25-yard loss that had almost four injuries. And he started the season pretty well."
Burrow remains sidelined by his July 26 appendectomy and despite a CBS Sports report that said he could be out a few more weeks than expected, Taylor didn't seem fazed.
"What you see is what you get. He looks good to me," Taylor said. "He's starting to get better every single day.
"It's been encouraging. He's back to himself in the meetings and looking good. I've never had the surgery and I don't know what it feels like, so I'm not going to make any predictions. We're excited about the progress he's making. We've got plenty of time before the opener."
Asked about Burrow's loss of weight, Taylor said he had such good offseason conditioning he doesn't see any problems. He's also confident Burrow's tender torso can handle his throwing motion once he gets back on the field.
"Joe is way more into the biomechanics than I ever was, which is why he is who he is and I am who I am," Taylor said. "He's very in tune with his body."
_One guy who is definitely going to play in Friday's 7:30 p.m. preseason opener against the Cardinals at PBS is first-round pick Dax Hill. He figures to get the start at free safety with Jessie Bates III yet to sign his franchise tender.
_Here's Taylor's view on it: "Any young player who needs a lot of snaps is going to get to get them." So look for backup running back Chris Evans to get a batch of carries and run back at least the first couple of kickoffs.
_Taylor released his depth chart Monday evening with absolutely no surprises. The first four draft picks are running second team with Hill behind Bates, second-rounder Cam Taylor-Britt backing up cornerback Eli Apple, third-rounder Zach Carter behind B.J. Hill at the three technique and fourth-rounder Cordell Volson backing up Jackson Carman at left guard.
_Taylor said backup left tackle D'Ante Smith (back) is day-to-day and they hope to get him in Friday, but he's uncertain. He didn't work for the third straight practice and is walking a bit tentatively.
_Except for one practice during the last eight camp workouts, the Bengals are going to be fully padded. Because Taylor has structured the camp with two days of practice followed by an off day or just a walk-through, they won't be near the maximum number of padded practices in August.
"We've asked these guys to go as hard as they can in full pads," Taylor said. "We're trying to get as much padded work in as possible. They've handed it well."
Not every day is live. Most of the sessions are where a play is simply ended by a "Thud," and not a tackle.
"A lot of the team tackling stuff is with good body position, understanding leverage," Taylor said. "We show good examples, bad examples. I think we talk about it as much as anybody."