At Wednesday's dinnertime news conference after a walkthrough, Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow sounded as if he's looking at some full practices heading into Sunday's game (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Fox 19) against the Titans in Nashville.
Burrow is listed as a full participant on Wednesday's injury report, which is an estimate of a regular practice. It's the first time he's been listed full since he re-aggravated his right calf strain in the Sept. 17 game and he kept underlining the importance of the Thursday and Friday workouts.
"We'll get better each day. We'll get better each day each and every day. Practices are big," Burrow said. "That's where you build chemistry. That's when you build confidence. So tomorrow and Friday will be big."
Burrow felt good enough to joke 30 seconds into the presser after there was a pause, "Good?" he asked, a sign that it was over. But he had a good ten minutes more in him and revealed he's confident his strained right calf can continue to get stronger without shutting it down for any games as he tries to gradually regain his signature pocket movement.
"It will get better each week I don't have a setback," Burrow said. "It's big to get through Monday without any setbacks. That means it will be stronger this week and if I get through this week without having any setbacks, it will be stronger the next week. All you can do is rest it and take time. But I'm going to continue to play and continue to practice and it will get stronger throughout the year."
Burrow has received some advice from the NFL's most famous injured quarterback. Aaron Rodgers, felled for the year with an Achilles' injury, recently counseled Burrow and while Burrow wouldn't reveal specifics of the conversation, he appreciated the words.
"We connected last week. He's dealt with calf issues his whole career and (I) wanted to use him as a resource and get his thoughts, what he might have done," Burrow said. "I think I take into account what he has to say. He's been through it, done that. And he was great about it. So, going to continue to use that as a resource. He's a great guy. Whenever you have a guy like that, that's willing to help, you're going to use it."
It's not the first time Burrow has knocked on the door of the elite quarterbacks, a quest he likes to keep private.
"It takes a certain kind of person to get to this point and have success and I think that's what we all have in common," Burrow said. "When you get together you can talk like you know each other even though you really don't. Because everybody has respect for everybody that gets to this point.
"The reason I play the game is for the relationships in the locker room and I love going up after a game giving respect to people who make great plays. Telling people they did a great job when I feel like they played well. That's one of my favorite parts of the game. It's really why I play it."
Burrow seeks crisper play from an offense uncharacteristically ranked 30th against the Titans' No. 31. He's looking to capitalize on Monday night's momentum that saw them keep the ball for 36 minutes while generating the first play of the season in excess of 25 yards to a wide receiver when Ja'Marr Chase caught a 43-yard corner route.
"We've got to be better on all fronts," Burrow said. "I thought the offensive line played really well on Monday. But I've got to be better. Receivers have to be better. We've got to be better as a unit and have to be more cohesive. We've got to be on the same page. We haven't quite hit our stride yet. But that's coming."
He believes that comes in practice, even during this short week when there is an emphasis on recovery.
"On a long week, I need as much practice as I can get," Burrow said. "But on a short week, I think prioritizing getting healthy and getting your body right is more important."
Burrow began the season as the NFL's all-time leading completion percentage leader at 68.2 with his series of impeccable throwing mechanics. He's still within four percentage points of leader Drew Brees with this season's mark of 55.4 and he's keeping an eagle eye on reconciling his injury with the proper throwing technique.
"When it first happened, you take a little time off throwing because I didn't really want to get in bad habits in that way," Burrow said. "It's something I've had to think about. Trying to find ways to get velocity on it, maybe without putting as much pressure on that calf. As it gets healthier, I'll be able to kind of change that. But right now, I'm feeling my way through it."
For Burrow, the answer is obvious.
"Practice is a big part of it," he said. "Tomorrow and Friday are going to be big for me."