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Bengals' First Takes: Burrow Says He Keeps Getting Better After Week's First Practice; Tee Higgins Limited While Chido DNP; NFC's Ravens Visit

QB Joe Burrow calls a play during the Bengals-Cardinals game in Week 5 of the 2023 season.
QB Joe Burrow calls a play during the Bengals-Cardinals game in Week 5 of the 2023 season.

Off his best game of the season, Bengals Pro Bowl quarterback Joe Burrow says he's as close to 100% as he's been since he strained his right calf.

"By far," Burrow said at his weekly news conference after Wednesday's practice. I'm confident I can run around and extend plays right now. It's tough to say a percentage … It's getting better and better."

Burrow's longest completion of the year, Sunday's 63-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase, has been reported by Next Gen Stats as the longest ball he's thrown ever in the pros through the air.

He didn't say that means he's back, but the author of the most 40-yard touchdown passes in the previous two seasons did have a glint in his eye when asked if it surprised him it is his longest NFL pass.

"I could feel it was going to go pretty far," Burrow said.


Wednesday is the eighth anniversary of one of Paycor Stadium's greatest games when the Bengals stayed undefeated by stunning the two-time NFC champion Seahawks with a rally from a 24-7 fourth-quarter deficit to a 27-24 overtime victory.

The Seahawks return for the first time to Paycor Sunday (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Local 12) and aren't they the NFC's answer to the Ravens?

One of the NFL's longest-tenured coaches. (Pete Carroll is in his 14th season and has a Super Bowl ring while leading Seattle to 10 postseasons.) He always makes sure his teams play terrific defense (they're first in rush average and top ten in sacks per pass), run the ball (they average 108 yards per game), and play solid special teams (they're top ten in punt and kick return and lead the NFL in punt coverage).

This means they're almost always in the hunt and here they are at 3-1 and on a three-game winning streak coming off a bye after a 24-3 road dismantling of the Giants.

"Playing against a really good team. They do a good job," said Bengals head coach Zac Taylor at Wednesday's news conference. "They're first in the league against the run and they do a good job so maybe teams have thrown the ball a little bit more and so the statistics aren't quite as high as the run defense, but they're really good on the back end at linebacker and they're very aware and they do a great job communicating and they've had a lot of success. That's why they're 3-1, and they've beaten good teams and so it's going to be a real challenge for our team on Sunday."

The Bengals lost to the AFC North Ravens last month by that familiar 27-24 score.

FOR OPENERS: It will be recalled Taylor's Bengals debut came against Carroll in the 2019 opener at Seattle, a 21-20 heartbreak the Bengals led, 17-14 at the half.

Of course, the only players left from that team are wide receiver Tyler Boyd, running back Joe Mixon, left end Sam Hubbard and defensive tackle Josh Tupou. That was two AFC North titles, five playoff wins, and a Super Bowl appearance ago.

But in noting what he appreciated since that day, Taylor seemed to indicate all three of his coordinators from that opener do return.

"Just the cohesion of our staff and our team. Just how well people play off each other and benefit from having each other around," Taylor said. " We've got really good coaches, really smart coaches that treat people the right way. We got really good players. Really good support staff. Just over the five years those are the things that stand out to me that you wouldn't have been able to predict five years ago, just how well everyone would come together to make this better than we could do individually."


Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan confirmed what we all saw last Sunday in Arizona. Burrow's improved mobility made a big difference in Arizona.

"His ability to move and create and extend players were critical in scoring those (two) red-zone touchdowns. He looked like he was back to playing normal football. Looking decisive and buying time when he had to. That part makes a huge difference."

When Burrow told them heading into the game he felt he could be more mobile and buy more time, Callahan didn't know what that would look like. He found out on the first sack in the second drive.

"He jumped over a guy. He actively tried to escape, which told me he probably feels pretty good," Callahan said. "And over the course of the game he kept progressing.

"He felt good. He looked good. He moved better. All positive things."

INJURY UPDATE: Wide receiver Tee Higgins (rib) and cornerback Chidobe Awuzie (back) are day-to-day after missing the Arizona win. Higgins went limited, like he did Friday and, like Friday, Awuzie didn't practice.