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Joe Burrow says it’s too early to tell if a calf injury will keep him out of Monday night’s game

AP Sports Writer

CINCINNATI (AP) — Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow said he’s day to day and doesn’t know yet if a lingering calf injury will keep him out of Monday’s night’s game against the Los Angeles Rams.

Burrow said he “tweaked” the calf injury late in Sunday’s loss to the Ravens. He wore a compression sleeve on his entire right leg Thursday but said the calf “is not as sore.” He did not participate in practice.

“I’m preparing like I’m going to go out and play a Monday night football game,” he said. “Whether that happens, I don’t know.

“Time heals,” he said, “so we’ll see.”

Burrow strained his right calf muscle on the second day of on-field workouts in training camp on July 27. That sidelined him for more than a month, depriving him of valuable preseason reps with his offense.

Burrow said he aggravated the injury on the Bengals’ final drive of Sunday’s 27-24 loss to the Ravens. He found Tee Higgins in the end zone for a 4-yard touchdown, then limped to the sideline favoring his right leg.

Asked if the Bengals’ 0-2 start creates more urgency for him to get back on the field, he said: “It’s in my head, for sure. I’m thinking about it.”

But he said he’s not panicking and nobody else is, either.

“That’s the ups and downs of the year,” Burrow said. “The teams that come out on top at the end of it are going to be the teams that handle that adversity the best. You can’t let it snowball on you. That’s what we’ve done in the past. And if you go back and look year to year, the teams that are still in at the end, everybody has adversity at some point in the year.”

If Burrow can’t go Monday, backup Jake Browning, who was on the practice squad last season, would get the nod.

“When you don’t have your starting quarterback, that’s a challenge,” coach Zac Taylor said. “But again, you’ve invested time and effort into Jake, and Jake’s matched that. The guys on our 53-man roster are here for a reason. We believe in them. We know we’re going to call upon everybody at some point, and the quarterback position is no different.”

Browning is not used to the media attention he received in the locker room Thursday.

“It’s my job to be prepared if Joe goes down, and so really for me, the week is no different,” he said. “Even when I was on the (practice) squad, I knew there was zero chance of me playing, but I was fully prepared and I would go through the whole game plan like I was going to be the backup, like I had a chance of playing. It’s my job to be ready if Joe goes down, and I’m in my third week of doing that.”

If Burrow’s teammates are worried, they’re not showing it.

“Coach is going to put us in the best position to win, and it’s our job to go out and execute,” Higgins said. “If Joe doesn’t play, at the end of the day, we still have to go do what we do.”

Thanks in large part to rain in Cleveland during the opener, Burrow never could find a rhythm and passed for just 82 yards, the lowest total in his pro career. The Browns thumped the Bengals 24-3.

He came out flat again last Sunday against the Ravens, passing for 35 yards in the first half. He began to look like his old self in the second half, moving the ball and throwing a pair of short touchdown passes to Higgins — but also throwing an interception in the red zone when a score would have given the Bengals the lead.

The highest-paid player in the NFL has some experience with health issues. During the 2021 season, he was still rehabbing from major knee surgery late in the previous season but ended up leading Cincinnati to the Super Bowl and was honored as the AP Comeback Player of the Year.

Just before the start of training camp in 2022, Burrow had an emergency appendectomy. He has acknowledged he wasn’t back to full strength for the first part of the season.

The Bengals started 0-2 in 2022, and a loss in Cleveland on Halloween evened their record at 4-4. They won the next eight games to finish the regular season and capture the AFC North title for the second straight season. They beat Baltimore and Buffalo in the playoffs before falling to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC championship game.


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