As much as the defense dominated rookie quarterback Joe Burrow in Tuesday's red zone work, his first-team offense had its way Thursday during team drills when head coach Zac Taylor set the ball up inside the 15. He was rewarded with four different receivers getting into the end zone on Burrow's five of six passing.
That came after Burrow went 5-for-5 in a third-down 11-on-11 period that featured some razor-sharp completions to wide receivers Auden Tate and Mike Thomas despite tight coverage by cornerback William Jackson III. The kid, as they say, is good.
It also put Burrow's famed resilience on display. Late in the second 11-on-11 period of the day, 10-year middle linebacker Josh Bynes dropped into coverage over the middle and Burrow threw it right to him. That came after his day started with getting chased out of the pocket on the first snap by nose tackle D.J. Reader and then a wild overthrow on the second snap. Then the pick, but that would be it.
Burrow's next throw, which closed the period, was a laser to wide receiver Mike Thomas working the sideline splitting the secondary and he opened the seven-on-seven period hitting Thomas again before launching a beautiful deep ball over tight end C.J. Uzomah's shoulder as he beat linebacker Germaine Pratt down the left sideline.
Burrow sifted eight to 10 passes without the linemen despite another day without three of his top four wide receivers in A.J. Green and Tee Higgins (hamstring) and John Ross (personal reasons). Slot receiver Tyler Boyd also caught a deep corner route that caught the secondary flat-footed for Burrow's easy conversion, but it was Thomas and Tate that did the most damage on the outside. Then came the prolific red zone where Mixon, Thomas, Tate and wide receiver Alex Erickson ended up in the end zone.
"He was probably pissed," said Bynes, the free-agent pickup from Baltimore who has played with plenty of pros.
But never did he have happen what happened Thursday after practice, when Burrow approached him to quiz him about the interception.
"Not a rookie quarterback. I don't think I've had a rookie quarterback come up to me," Bynes said. "Maybe I had a few vets here and there. Definitely not a rookie quarterback. But you can tell he's hungry and wants to get better. That's what I like about him. I think everybody is knowing that, especially on offense. They're gravitating towards him because right now he has to lead the way for this offense and we're looking forward to it."
Running back Joe Mixon scored twice in the red zone
Once on a two-yard run over the left side where he didn't seem to get much resistance and he responded with a quiet knockoff of one his touchdown dances. He also appeared to score on an 11-yard screen pass with left guard Michael Jordan steaming out in front.
Mixon also had an assist during the day when he wanted to acknowledge a hustle play by safety Jessie Bates. He ran across the field to the other sideline to put in a shoulder pad that had popped out.
Jackson had a frustrating day.
It looked like he had an interception off of a Tate snatch that was juggled on the sideline momentarily and Tate grabbed it back as they were falling down. Soon after on another side-line route, Jackson had Tate blanketed and somehow Burrow's precision and Tate's big body got the completion.
"He's putting it right on the money," said Jackson, shaking his head as he went to one knee on the sideline.
Head coach Zac Taylor looks like he's going to have a rotation to decide the Opening Day cornerback opposite Jackson in replace of the injured Trae Waynes.
On Tuesday it was three-year veteran Darius Phillips. On Thursday it was LeShaun Sims, a fifth-year free agent pickup from the Titans. Expect CFL vet Winston Rose to also get a look as well as maybe former Packer Tony Brown...
Same thing at linebacker. To start if off, fourth-rounder Akeem Davis-Gaither lined up next to Bynes. On Tuesday sophomore Germaine Pratt had been next to Bynes. Next it could be third-rounder Logan Wilson and seventh-rounder Markus Bailey ...
Slants and Screens:
Strong safety Shawn Williams (calf) was on the sidelines and the hope is he can be back for the Sept. 13 opener….Trayvon Henderson looked to be taking a lot of his snaps.
The first offensive line looked to give Burrow pretty good time on most plays. When they didn't, he got rid of it. He did hang in on one red zone snap that was worthy of the overall No. 1 pick. With the pocket collapsing he climbed the ladder and found Tate on the back line of the end zone.
The second offensive line in front of quarterback Ryan Finley has Billy Price at left guard and Fred Johnson at left tackle with undrafted free agent Josh Knipfel at center, second-year O'Shea Dugas moving from tackle to right guard and sixth-round pick Hakeem Adeniji at right tackle.
John Ross got back from California Thursday morning, but only to take his Covid test. Ross, who went home to attend to his son and his son's mother when they came down with the virus, needs to test negatively a couple of times before returning to Paul Brown Stadium to practice ...