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After rough first day in pads, should Bengals fans be concerned about Joe Burrow?

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The Cincinnati Bengals offense isn't instilling any confidence in fans a week into training camp and it starts with quarterback Joe Burrow

Burrow, the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL draft, is coming off an ACL tear suffered in the 10th game of his career on Nov. 22. He did not open camp on the physically unable to perform list as some suspected he might, but his performance has been lacking so far. 

Burrow was 5 for 12 with an interception in 11-on-11 drills during Tuesday's practice, Jay Morrison and Paul Dehner Jr. reported for The Athletic. He nearly had another pass picked off as well and only hit one longer than 10 yards on the first day in pads for the team. 

Some of that can be attributed to a standout defensive effort in camp this week. The defense put up back-to-back strong outings and were the star of camp. But Burrow reportedly threw between players, had passes easily broken up by multiple defenders and looked uncomfortable against a team that clearly isn't allowed to get too close to the QB in practices. 

From The Athletic:

There might be a multitude of reasons for the struggles, but this has been ugly. At one point, pressure pushed into his face and Burrow lifted his leg into the air almost to avoid any accident with the close pocket. It makes you wonder if the knee is still in his head, but that’s strictly guesswork. The bottom line is there’s no way to say his play looks comfortable at this point and this isn’t at all what you have seen from Burrow even in the early camp moments of last season.

Burrow hurt his knee in the third quarter against the Washington Football Team, tearing his ACL and MCL. It ended a stellar start to a career that had Bengals fans rightly excited for the future. Recovery is estimated at between six and nine months; it's been eight since the injury. 

Head coach Zac Taylor said on July 26 that Burrow is "cleared to do everything," but there appears to still be hesitation on Burrow's end. Or at least some more football work to do after eight months of extensive rehab to get fully back on the field. 

As Yahoo Sports' NFL writer Frank Schwab wrote in June, fans should be nervous until Burrow fully tests the knee. And he "might never be the same quarterback," he wrote. Team owner Mike Brown said the star quarterback "probably" won't play in preseason games, so the time to work it out is now. 

Burrow is the key for the Bengals moving forward, and so far in camp there's significant improvements needed. 

Joe Burrow.
Joe Burrow is coming back from a knee injury. (Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

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