By all accounts, Joe Burrow is on track to return good as new when the Cincinnati Bengals open up training camp in July. During OTAs, the QB is already turning heads and stinging hands.
"It's been fun watching him because he looks good throwing the football," head coach Zac Taylor said after Tuesday's practice, per the team's official website. "Obviously, he can't do all the moves and stuff and what he'll be doing once the season rolls around. But just watching him throw the football, it's the same old Joe."
Burrow admitted last week that he's at about 85 percent after an ACL tear wiped out the end of his rookie campaign. As far as his pass-catchers can tell, however, Joey B is back to firing pigskin BBs.
"Earlier Tee (Higgins) had dropped the first ball because Joe's smoking them," receiver Tyler Boyd said. "They're coming. So we've got to anticipate that because Joe got stronger last year as well. So hands was out there stinging a little bit, but we've got to adjust to it. We're receivers, we've got to catch everything that's thrown at us."
"Thad was like, 'Yeah, he's humming the ball right now.' This isn't me,'" Uzomah said of Moss' reassurance. "He said, 'No, no, no, he's ripping it.' I don't know if he is changing up his throwing motion or his mechanics or things like that but he definitely has some zip to it.
"Even today on some of the routes, it's like, yep, this thing is coming. Tight coverage will not matter right now because it's getting on you quick. I like it. It took a second, and I was like, 'Oh, hold on, let me put the gloves on and make sure I'm ready for this.' But I like it better right now, just the way it is coming in. Maybe that's just me being with him in the rehab stuff and just getting used to it. But it feels good. Feels like he's doing well, feeling well, throwing well."
Burrow recently noted that he's worked on his mechanics this offseason during his rehab, which should aid his improvement in Year 2. Being able to drive the ball enough for his wideouts to notice indicates his lower body is involved in his throwing motion, which is an excellent sign for his rehab at this stage.
In addition to the anecdotal velocity uptick noted by teammates, the signal-caller also ripped off several deep shots, including some 40-yarders, something Burrow recently noted he wanted to work on this year.
"There's a couple of things he's continuing to work on, and that's not out of the realm of things that he's OK to do right now," Taylor said of the deep passes. "He looks better every single day I see him. There's a little more movement there. Certainly, the distance stuff is something that is not off limits for him right now. I know he's just trying to get re-acquainted with some of these receivers and get some extra throws in, and that's been good to see."
At every phase of his rehab process, we've only heard good reports of Burrow's progress. The on-field reports of Burrow's recovery are the best news yet that he'll be full force by Week 1.