CINCINNATI — Great players are able to mask a team’s flaws and produce winning moments.
That’s why even during a truncated rookie year, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow proved he’s already a transcendent quarterback. As the 2020 top overall draft pick turning into one of the NFL’s top rookies, he helped transform Cincinnati into a franchise that was trending upward in its rebuild.
That was before the sobering moment he went down last Sunday against Washington with a season-ending knee injury. The 20-9 loss highlighted a few of the issues that had previously been overlooked because of the optimism surrounding Burrow.
Over the final six games of 2020, the Bengals have no choice but to face their flaws. That process has already started with the preparation for Sunday’s home game against the New York Giants (1 p.m. ET, FOX).
Cincinnati (2-7-1) is expected to start Brandon Allen at quarterback, a decision that indicates their previous backup, second-year QB Ryan Finley, isn’t the best option for winning games. It’s a firm evaluation that will likely be a trend as the Bengals try to salvage the 2020 season with a few wins.
“Ultimately, winning is what it comes down to,” coach Zac Taylor said. “We have to find ways to finish off games and get a complete game in all three phases from our team because we got to go win.”
A postseason appearance in 2020 was always unlikely. But if the Bengals showed some promise, a playoff push in 2021 could be more than realistic.
Stephania Bell goes into detail about Joe Burrow’s injury and explains how so much damage was done.
With Burrow out for an undetermined amount of time, Cincinnati is forced to evaluate the shaky parts of the roster. That apparently included its No. 2 quarterback.
Finley, a fourth-round pick in 2019, was the primary backup since the beginning of last season and held that role throughout training camp. However, after last Sunday’s outing in which he went 3-of-10 passing for 30 yards after Burrow’s injury, the Bengals opted for Allen against the Giants (3-7). By going with the sparsely-used veteran, it was an admission that Cincinnati’s depth chart wasn’t as strong as it previously believed.
The quarterback spot doesn’t appear to be the only position that received a hard look after Burrow’s devastating injury. Based off Wednesday’s practice, recent signee Quinton Spain could replace Michael Jordan, another 2019 fourth-round pick, at left guard. Jordan struggled against Washington and was beaten on the play when Burrow suffered his knee injury in the third quarter.
The coaching staff won’t be the only ones evaluating the roster the rest of the way.
Bengals safety Jessie Bates, who has three interceptions and has been among the NFL’s top safeties, noted that it will be easy for players to become disengaged at practices as the temperature dips and the work feels even more tedious. Bates said it will be up to the team leaders to set an example to those who want to remain in Cincinnati after 2020.
“If you’re not playing to that standard or not doing everything to that standard, then I think it should make it clear what is going to happen next year, who is going to be here in this locker room and stuff like that,” Bates said.
If Burrow can make a full recovery as anticipated and return to the field around next September, the Bengals will have a realistic opportunity to end a five-year playoff drought. The Bengals will get another opportunity to address their weaknesses, fortify the roster and coaching staff and give Burrow and the team a chance to truly be successful.
Bengals safety Vonn Bell, one of last offseason’s big additions, views the remainder of 2020 as a time for self-reflection and to find ways to improve and push forward.
“That’s when you dig deep,” Bell said. “And that’s when you find out who you truly are.”
NFL mandatory minicamps 2021 — Derek Carr’s stance, Julio Jones’ debut, Tua Tagovailoa’s rough day and more
From quarterback Derek Carr making a bold statement about his commitment to the Las Vegas Raiders to Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa throwing five interceptions in a heavy rainstorm to wide receiver Julio Jones taking the field in the Tennessee Titans‘ No. 2 uniform, some of the big names in the NFL made waves on Tuesday during NFL mandatory minicamps.
Eighteen NFL teams opened their mandatory three-day minicamps this week. Ten held theirs last week, with four teams electing to cancel. Teams that opted out of mandatory minicamps this week are the Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts and San Francisco 49ers. The Philadelphia Eagles were the first team to skip theirs when they did so a week ago.
While practices were underway for half the league, much of the talk of Tuesday’s camps included the players who haven’t stepped foot on the field because of ongoing contract negotiations. Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard, New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore and Seattle Seahawks safety Jamal Adams were among the notable players absent from their respective team facilities.
Teams already have been going through organized team activities, but this marks the first time that many veterans will take the field since the end of the 2020 NFL season. That includes some players who joined new teams this offseason, including prized free agents and edge rushers Matt Judon (Patriots) and Yannick Ngakoue (Raiders).
Here are some snapshots, many from ESPN’s NFL Nation reporters who are on the scene at this week’s activities, from Tuesday’s minicamps:
Top news of the day
Carr says he has no desire to leave Raiders
Las Vegas quarterback Derek Carr re-asserted his desire to remain with the team that drafted him in the second round in 2014. “I’d probably quit football if I had to play for somebody else,” Carr said.
Derek Carr explains why he has no interest in playing for a franchise other than the Raiders.
Howard not at Dolphins camp over ‘unique’ situation
Xavien Howard, who hasn’t shown up to any portion of the Dolphins’ voluntary offseason program this year, was not in attendance for minicamp meetings Tuesday, and he’s officially a holdout as he seeks a new contract. Coach Brian Flores noted the cornerback’s situation is “unique” in regard to his contract because Howard feels like he has outplayed the five-year, $75.25 million extension he signed in May 2019.
Dolphins coach Brian Flores discusses the team’s desire to keep Xavien Howard amid a contract dispute.
Packers’ Rodgers jokes about ‘quiet offseason’
Aaron Rodgers, who has dominated the NFL headlines this spring because of his dissatisfaction with Green Bay, showed his sense of humor during a promotional video in advance of the July 6 golf match featuring Rodgers and PGA Tour star Bryson DeChambeau against Tom Brady and Phil Mickelson.
Adam Schefter says Green Bay’s front office isn’t doing itself any favors when it comes to keeping Aaron Rodgers.
More NFL headlines:
Julio Jones footwork drill with WR coach Rob Moore. Nice grab at the end. pic.twitter.com/SnLSPThdT6
— TURRON DAVENPORT (@TDavenport_NFL) June 15, 2021
Cam Newton with a little hop in his step upon arrival. pic.twitter.com/y37cfPjGKr
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) June 15, 2021
Joe Burrow News Conference https://t.co/Ve1fqIbpv6
— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) June 15, 2021
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) June 15, 2021
Day 1 of minicamp is in the books after this play by the first team in the red zone. Chad Beebe make a catch in the corner of the end zone; think Mackensie Alexander was supposed to be on him. pic.twitter.com/Q9HNDbyIjx
— Courtney Cronin (@CourtneyRCronin) June 15, 2021
I got you!! 😂 https://t.co/jlh7Zwe7nb
— Joe Haden (@joehaden23) June 15, 2021
we missed this pic.twitter.com/1q4J8FDpg4
— Los Angeles Chargers (@Chargers) June 15, 2021
Off & running at Day 1️⃣ of minicamp! pic.twitter.com/bcVONrlpsI
— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) June 15, 2021
Day 1 of Dolphins mandatory minicamp. Tua Tagovailoa going through some warmup reps. pic.twitter.com/31nTB9DXY3
— Cameron Wolfe (@CameronWolfe) June 15, 2021
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) June 15, 2021
— Marcel Louis-Jacques (@Marcel_LJ) June 15, 2021
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) June 15, 2021
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) June 15, 2021
— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) June 15, 2021
— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) June 15, 2021
Quotes of the day
“I played with Julio [Jones], Mohamed Sanu, since Day 1, those guys, I feel like I’ve been moving toward that way of I can do it by myself. Obviously I’m not by myself, we have other players who are really good, but I feel like I’ve been ready and I just needed an opportunity to get in those positions.”
Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley
“I was surprised. … You never like to see things like that.”
Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce on Le’Veon Bell’s comments about coach Andy Reid
“I wore 9 in college my senior and junior year. I’m one of 10 children, so I got 9 siblings – every time I go out there, I represent them. I like 9; that’s one of the reasons I rock it. And 99 was taken, so I chose to use the new rule.”
Patriots linebacker Matthew Judon on his jersey number
“You don’t feel like yourself, even when you pass the symptoms. There’s a certain level or feeling you have when you’re ready, and COVID made it a little harder to get to that good feeling.”
Ravens defensive end Calais Campbell has had no post-COVID issues the past couple of months
— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) June 15, 2021
— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) June 15, 2021
Here to 𝗛 𝗨 𝗦 𝗧 𝗟 𝗘. pic.twitter.com/2GuxKobTs3
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) June 15, 2021
Just the beginning 🔥 pic.twitter.com/FuwE7uoKBH
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 15, 2021
Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers jokes about his ‘quiet offseason’ in interview for July 6 golf match
Through everything that has happened surrounding Aaron Rodgers this offseason, one thing is clear: He still understands sarcasm.
The reigning MVP, who has dominated the NFL headlines this spring because of his dissatisfaction with the Green Bay Packers, showed his sense of humor Tuesday during a promotional video in advance of the July 6 golf match featuring Rodgers and PGA Tour star Bryson DeChambeau against Tom Brady and Phil Mickelson.
TNT’s Brian Anderson, who hosted the video conference, set up Rodgers with this: “You’ve really kept a low profile this offseason, I’ve hardly seen your name at all and you haven’t hosted any TV shows or been involved in any kind of controversy or anything. It’s been a nice, peaceful offseason for you, it sounds like.”
Rodgers’ reply was both deadpan and dripping with irony.
“It’s been one of those quiet offseasons you dream about, where you can kind of just go through your process on your own, quietly,” Rodgers said. “And that’s all you can ask for as an older player in the league and someone who’s been around for a long time and just enjoys that time to yourself, just relax, to not be bothered, to not have any obligations or anything going on.
“I think that’s what this offseason has been about. It’s been about really enjoying my time and spending it where I want to spend it, not feeling like I have to go anywhere but still be an NFL player at the same time. It’s been great.”
Rodgers skipped his only actual obligation, the Packers’ mandatory minicamp last week, and is subject to fines of $93,085. He also missed the entire offseason program, thereby forfeiting his $500,000 workout bonus.
The Packers have publicly maintained their desire to have Rodgers back for “2021 and beyond,” as team president Mark Murphy put it earlier this offseason, but it’s unclear whether Rodgers will report for training camp next month or will hold out and try to force a trade. Since the news of Rodgers’ unhappiness with the Packers broke on the afternoon of this year’s draft, the Packers have insisted they will not trade him.
Earlier this month, Murphy wrote that the situation has divided the Packers’ fan base and added that the less said publicly about the situation, the better. However, Murphy didn’t heed his own advice last week when, during a speaking engagement, he referred to Rodgers as “a complicated fella,” saying he was echoing how former Packers general manager Ted Thompson once described him.
It’s unclear whether the T-shirt Rodgers wore for Tuesday’s videoconference, which read “I’m offended,” was in response to Murphy’s comment.
Carolina Panthers WR Robby Anderson says he sees new ‘glow’ in QB Sam Darnold
“When I walked in the building I could see a new energy out of him, like a glow, charisma that I didn’t really see in New York,” said Anderson, who played with Darnold in 2018-19. “I can definitely see the difference in him so far.”
Anderson was the only Carolina player not seen by media for any of the voluntary portions of on-the-field offseason workouts.
So Tuesday, the first of a three-day mandatory camp, was the first time Anderson had a chance to work with Darnold since the Jets’ 2019 finale against Buffalo when they connected three times for 18 yards.
“You know when a person can see like a glow, energy, their aura?” Anderson said. “I could kind of see that when I walked in the building.”
Anderson was Darnold’s favorite target with the Jets. He had 102 catches for 1,431 yards and 11 touchdowns during their time together.
Stopping short of making a prediction, Anderson expects better things for them in Joe Brady’s system at Carolina, where in 2020 Anderson had a career-best 95 catches for 1,096 yards and three touchdowns.
“The New York system was a little more complex, had a lot of nuances that was more difficult for everybody, not just him, not just me,” Anderson said. “This system is a little more graspable.”
New Carolina edge rusher Haason Reddick hasn’t played with Darnold before, but he likes what he has seen.
“Sam’s completing passes,” said Reddick, an offseason free-agent signing from Arizona. “It looks like he’s playing intelligent football.”
Coach Matt Rhule just wants Darnold, who struggled with consistency with the Jets, completing only 59.8% of his passes and going 13-25 as the starter, to continue playing “good” football in practice.
“I don’t want him to have great days right now … just steady progress to make good days roll into great days,” he said of the quarterback Carolina traded for before the draft.
Anderson, who should help Darnold’s growth because of their past chemistry, didn’t go into detail on why he stayed in South Florida throughout the voluntary portions of OTAs.
“I’m to the point of my career where I know how to get myself ready,” he said. “So it wasn’t nothing against the team or nothing like that. I feel I capitalized on this time. The work I was putting in with my trainer, I was on a good program.
“I didn’t want to step away from that.”
Rhule said it was great to have Anderson back even though Anderson wasn’t in all the team drills.
“Robby is a guy that brings energy to the practice field,” he said. “He’s in great shape. You can tell he’s been working hard. We had a goal of like three to four reps in a team drills. I’m not going to over-rep anybody.”
Soccer7 days ago
Chelsea tipped for Harry Kane transfer swoop despite 'fitting' Man City criteria
Soccer7 days ago
Chelsea 'make bid for Achraf Hakimi' and could include two stars in swap deal
Soccer7 days ago
Man Utd discover Jadon Sancho transfer deadline as Borussia Dortmund repeat 2020 demand
Soccer7 days ago
Real Madrid star Raphael Varane 'wants to try something new' in Man Utd transfer boost
Soccer5 days ago
Jadon Sancho wages: How much star will earn if 'five-year Man Utd contract' is signed
Soccer7 days ago
Marcus Rashford has already delivered his verdict on Man Utd target Raphael Varane
Soccer5 days ago
UEFA European Championships, news, when is it, who will win, how to watch, favourites, Covid-19, squads, Australia, start time, fixtures,
MLB5 days ago
Last-place Arizona Diamondbacks fire hitting coach Darnell Coles, assistant Eric Hinske