The Bengals circled last week's bye when it came to getting Pro Bowl quarterback Joe Burrow and his calf close to fully healed and it sounds like a week of vegging on the couch has got him pretty much at 100% for Sunday's game (4:25 p.m.-Cincinnati's Local 12) against the 49ers at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.
Burrow vowed his offense is going to play just as aggressively as his own game on third down and in the red zone, which is all about extending plays with his legs.
"When your backs are against the wall in those kinds of situations, you have to be able to extend and make plays and I've been able to do a little bit of that the last couple of weeks," said Burrow Wednesday in his first media appearance since the bye, "Before that, not really. So I'm excited to get back to making plays outside the pocket. And run for first downs. That's how I like to play and that's how we're going to play going forward."
Burrow admitted he did "absolutely nothing," during the bye and embraced the nothingness.
"It would have been better a couple of weeks earlier. I felt pretty good after last week health-wise so it was just an extra week to get healthy, feeling good, feeling 100 percent," Burrow said.
"Just sat on the couch, ate, watched football, lifted, so it was a good week," he said. "It was a little different this year. Our bye came a little earlier, so your body and mind, it was a little different not feeling quite like you needed a bye week, so I was a little more locked in on football this bye week than I would have been past bye weeks."
Burrow clearly played better in the last two games than he did in the first month of the season and as he comes off games with passer ratings of 108 and 88, he said he wants to get better "at just about everything," as he looks to raise his current 79.8 passer rating closer to his career mark of 97.7.
"You definitely watch teams across the league, see what's working, what's not," said Burrow of the bye. "Watch your stuff, think about your stuff, think about your mechanics, think about a lot of things."
JOE MOTION: He sounds confident about that mobility that is so needed on key downs. Third down and red zone are always, decisive areas, but maybe more so Sunday with the 49ers offense ranked third in red zone and sixth in third-down efficiency. The Bengals are 17th and 29th, respectively, as Burrow eases back to form.
"That's third down and red zone in a nutshell," Burrow said. "You can scheme up plays all you want, but defenses are really good and know how to take away what you're trying to do."
BLOOD AND GUTS: Center Ted Karras had to laugh Wednesday as the Burrow questions peppered him.
"I'm not on Joe Watch," Karras said with a smile after practice. "(But) He looks pretty good. We had a good, crisp day today. I think the biggest thing that came out of early in the season was that everybody knows how tough this guy is and he went out there and showed it."
Karras said it was not lost on the locker room that Burrow began the season hurt and 24 hours after signing the biggest contract in NFL history.
"When you see your guy who just signed a quarter of a billion dollar contract go out there on one leg and try to grind it for our for the team," Karras said, "because he knows the success of all of us … It's an 11-man unit, but it's predicated on his success. For him to go out there and show us that early in the season, he's a special guy."
UNDER CENTER SURFACES: Last week, Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan hinted the Bengals, among the NFL leaders in shot-gun use, were ready to go under center more on short-yardage and goal-line now that Burrow is healthier. It comes in the wake of three stops when they needed a yard in the last two wins. According to fantasypoints.com, all of running back Joe Mixon's runs inside the foes' 5 have been out of shot gun with a 20 percent touchdown rate. Last year when Burrow was under center for those kinds of runs, the touchdown rate was 44%.
Burrow doesn't agree with the notion the shotgun can tip off defenses.
"I wouldn't say that. Maybe certain things it's not quite the same out of the gun, but you can still do it," Burrow said. "You just have to block it and think about it differently."
SLANTS AND SCREENS: One of Burrow's good Ohio State buddies is 49ers ace sacker Nick Bosa and while they've texted this week, Burrow says the trash talking hasn't commenced yet …
Bengals head coach Zac Taylor says left tackle Orlando Brown (groin) is surprisingly ahead of schedule and he went limited Wednesday after saying Monday he's playing …
The only player who didn't practice Wednesday was backup linebacker Akeem Davis-Gaither (knee). Wide receiver Tee Higgins, coming off a painful rib injury, wasn't on the injury report, meaning he worked full.
"I think we're in a pretty good spot right now from a health standpoint particularly on offense," Taylor said …
With 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy in concussion protocol and Sam Darnold on deck, here's a reminder that Taylor got his first NFL win as a head coach in the Bengals' 2019 win over Darnold's Jets in a Paycor Stadium game they held New York to two field goals and Darnold to 239 yards on 28 of 48 passing …