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Quick Hits: New Bengal And Playoff Vet Sheldon Rankins Senses 'Super Bowl Or Bust' Paycor Vibe; Joe Burrow's Day Off

The team huddles during training at the Kettering Health Practice Fields on June 4, 2024 in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The team huddles during training at the Kettering Health Practice Fields on June 4, 2024 in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Since defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins signed his two-year, $25 million deal with the Bengals in March, he's turned 30 and ripped off an offseason program that has him hungry for his first title run in his ninth NFL season.

A true vet, Rankins, he of four playoff wins, arrived this week for his first work on the field in voluntary practices offering nothing but an honest day's work.

"I'm not going to disclose my location," Rankins said of his training regimen after Tuesday's practice. "I've been training hard. Working and crafting and making sure when I show up, I'm the player they expect me to be and doing everything they need me to do when it comes to playing real football.

"I understand the nature of the business. When you sign a guy and pay a guy and get the kind of money I was fortunate to receive from them, I understand the things they expect from me, and they aren't near the expectations I keep for myself. I'm looking to be a prime-time guy for them."

Rankins has lost three divisional games in the playoffs (two with the Saints and one with the Texans), so this week has been a good reminder why he signed with a defense line that has three starters from two Bengals' divisional wins.

"I think we're really good. Just seeing the guys out there. The way they're moving around. Seeing the level of talent in our room, I'm really ecstatic about what we can do. Super Bowl or bust," Rankins said. "That was part of my decision coming here.

"Once you get here, you can feel it in the building. The way people talk, the way people act. The way people treat you. First class all the way around. Everything is geared to playing in February in New Orleans."

Which would be a neat full circle for Rankins, a 2016 first-round pick of the Saints out of Louisville. Nearly ten years ago, but he says he's got plenty left for a defense that lost its Pro Bowl-caliber nose tackle DJ Reader and believes he's a "dominant three-down," player who can be more than a factor against the run.

Last year, he played 59% of the snaps for the Texans' sixth-ranked run defense.

"At this point in my career, 100 percent. No doubt about it," Rankins said. "I have zero doubt in myself to be a dominant three-down guy. Go play against the run, and on third down make money as a pass rusher. Zero doubt in anything I can do at this point in my career."

The best photos from OTAs at the Kettering Health Practice Fields on June 4, 2024 in Cincinnati, Ohio.

RESTING JOE: There has been no setback and Bengals head coach Zac Taylor says he'll practice Wednesday and it sounds like maybe all three days of next week's mandatory minicamp.

But outside of a congressional hearing, there's no better way to set Twitter ablaze than giving Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow a day off in front of the media.

That's what the Bengals did Tuesday and what they've been doing since the voluntary practices started last month. As Burrow comes off wrist surgery slinging it like he always has, the Bengals have opted to give him one day off a week.

"It's been the second day off each week. I just assumed you guys would be here yesterday and get all the good tape you want, then lo and behold, you're not here. That's my fault and nobody else's," Taylor greeted the media after practice.

"During phase two when we're out here throwing, you get more throws in the OTA days, because we're doing 7-on-7, so there are a lot of reps there. We made that adjustment in Week one and counted the number of throws we're doing. We're monitoring his reps in practice. We're trying to be proactive with the day."

The Bengals continue to be impressed with how well their franchise quarterback has bounced back and the day off plays right into the narrative Burrow himself set last month when he said he wasn't going to push his body like he has and how he plans to back himself off more often.

"He's been great. Anytime you ask for feedback from him, things are always going really well. I've just learned in dealing with these players for a long time now that when things are going good, that's good, but let's be smart. We've really never gone more than two days in a row," Taylor said. "Just trying to be preventative for me. He's been feeling really good. When players usually communicate they're doing great, you push them a little too hard, so as the coach you've got to pull back on some of those guys."

SLANTS AND SCREENS: Yes, Taylor saw the $35 million per year deal inked by Vikings receiver and Ja’Marr Chase book-end Justin Jefferson. Chase has yet to practice here, but he expects to be here next week and he has been talking to Taylor.

"It's a good time to be a receiver," Taylor said. "I've talked to Ja'Marr. I won't get into our conversations, but we've had great dialogue." …

So when Jake Browning took Burrow's snaps Tuesday, it was a reminder that this is the first spring in a decade the Bengals have a backup quarterback who has started at least seven games in a season.

(Trivia answer: Jason Campbell backing up Andy Dalton in 2014.)

Until Burrow went down last Nov. 16, the most work Browning got with the ones came in training camp. He did little in the spring, but on Tuesday no one blinked as he ran through seven-on-seven with regulars like Chase Brown, Zach Moss, Mike Gesicki, Tanner Hudson, and Jermaine Burton.

"It's hard not to feel comfortable in 7-on-7 with the experience," Browning said. "I'm just trying to keep balanced with the confidence that I played well, but keeping the edge that got me here and knowing there are things I need to improve on. Just because I played better that people thought I was going to play doesn't mean I'm happy with how everything went." …

A handful of University of Illinois coaches were on hand at Tuesday's practice and enjoyed catching up with their old workhorse running back. It will be recalled in 2022, the season before the Bengals took Chase Brown in the fifth round, he carried 328 times, the second most rushes in the nation.

"He's a pro. When we had him, he was already a pro," said offensive coordinator Barry Lunney on the Kettering Health Practice Field sidelines. "He took care of his body. No surprise he's made an impact already at this level. Our whole offense ran right through him. Resilient. Tough. Hardly missed a down. We kept giving it to him. He wanted us to keep giving it to him, and the whole team wanted us to keep giving it to him."

The 5-10, 210-pound Brown is prepping to share the lead job with Zach Moss and when his old coaches sat in on Tuesday's meetings, they saw something familiar. They have no doubt he's up to the task.

"Very cerebral kid and worked his tail off to get to be where he is right now," said Illini assistant head coach and running back coach Thad Ward. "Same kid you see right now. Great notetaker. Regimented routine. A pro's pro. 'Coach's dream,' are the exact words."