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Quick Hits: Varied Bengals Offense Keys Up Joe Burrow As He Tunes Regimen; Ja'Marr Sighting; Dax Hill Stepping In

QB Joe Burrow during practice at the IEL Practice Facility on Tuesday, June 11, 2024 in Cincinnati, Ohio.
QB Joe Burrow during practice at the IEL Practice Facility on Tuesday, June 11, 2024 in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Bengals head coach Zac Taylor's playbook isn't changing anytime soon. But with new offensive coordinator Dan Pitcher at the helm, it sounds like they're going to use more of it.

Quarterback Joe Burrow, who has overseen one of the NFL's heaviest three-receiver set schemes during his four seasons, indicated during Tuesday's news conference that more variety is in play.

"With the personnel we have this year, we'll be able to do a lot more with personnel groupings. Putting different people in different spots," Burrow said after the first practice of mandatory minicamp. "And doing a lot of different things as far as eye candy and making teams adjust their personnel based on ours.

"I think the next couple of months through training camp will iron all that out as the coaches will go back and self-scout for the next month after this, but I'm excited to kind of dive into that world."

Yet the playbook hasn't been ripped up and is pretty much the playbook.

"Our core offense is our core offense. We're going to do what we do," Burrow said. "Every year there are new wrinkles and new plays that you add to the fold that we think are going to help us. That's what this time is for, to call those plays in the huddle, go and walk through those plays and then come training camp, you throw them out there and see what works, see what doesn't. That's what this process is about. It's about trial and error."

JA'MARR SIGHTING: What the Bengals do is make sure wide receivers Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins get the ball. Higgins, an unsigned franchise free agent, wasn't here Tuesday, and Chase showed up for the first time this spring. He didn't participate in practice and declined to speak to the assembled press.

Chase, now eligible to sign a contract extension after his third straight Pro Bowl season, eased back in after working out on his own this offseason and went to meetings and caught some balls.

"You definitely feel his presence. It was nice having him back out there," Burrow said. "He's a guy that always brings energy, always is talking to guys, whether it's about executing the play that's being run or whether it's just providing some fun and some energy. He's a happy-go-lucky kind of guy that you love being around."

Burrow has been texting both his top guns and he doesn't envision any kind of a private passing camp between the time the club breaks Thursday before opening training camp July 24.

"I feel good about where our chemistry is. I don't feel the need for that, but if it happens, it happens," Burrow said.

TO GRIND OR NOT TO GRIND? Maybe Burrow just isn't reminding us, but him, too: "We don't have to be ready to go in the middle of June. We have to be ready to go early September through February."

Burrow admitted just how tough it is to back off his regimen because being a gym rat has always been his identity as he emerged as one of the best quarterbacks of his generation.

"Whenever the injuries start to stack up your football mortality kind of comes into the back of your mind. So, that's definitely something I've thought about and something I have had to fight through," Burrow said.

But he's also trying to get through the first full NFL training camp of his career.

"I'm going to definitely not quite grind as much for this next month and a half. My offseason has been about 10 weeks longer than everybody else's. So, I've had 10 weeks of work everybody else hasn't. So, I feel really good about where I am going to be at come training camp," Burrow said.

"How you can come back an improved player when maybe you aren't getting the reps you had because of your injuries? It's always a challenge, it always is. But I'm built for it. Our team is built for it and people that I have surrounded myself with have been through it with me as well. I'm excited about the season."

Now, maybe fewer workouts and a few more piano lessons. He says he's taking them from YouTube.

"I've got a couple of songs I can play," he said.

SLANTS AND SCREENS: Converted safety Dax Hill and Cam Taylor-Britt were the cornerbacks as the Ones opened seven-on-seven drills. Except for the rules that prevent contact, Hill thought the day went smoothly, but didn't compare it to riding a bike after playing on the edge in college and as a rookie.

More like a tricycle.

"You have to trust those back two wheels first and then let it go and go straight to two wheels after a certain amount of time," Hill said. "It's an adjustment, but it felt good. I'm just competing against myself, do whatever they tell me to do, and just be the better version of myself every day." …

Burrow admits he has good days and bad days, like any injury. But he also says he's 100% enough to drill a ball through a tight window: "You want to get those body mechanics back and muscle memory, but I also feel really good about how I'm throwing and so now it's just making sure my body feels the way I need to come July 24 on our first day of practice and then through training camp and the first game." ...

Linebacker Germaine "All About The Ball," Pratt, broke up Burrow's first seven-on-seven pass of the day over the middle …

Rookie cornerback Josh Newton came out ready in his first seven-on-seven series. He broke up quarterback Jake Browning's go-ball to wide receiver Kwamie Lassiter II and then came back to knock the ball away from Kendric Pryor over the middle …