Despite struggles, Bengals vow to ‘keep moving forward’

CINCINNATI — Cincinnati Bengals coach Zac Taylor looked at the clock as he began his press conference Monday to address a question regarding Joe Burrow’s wrist surgery that had been scheduled for that day.

Burrow might have been in surgery still at that moment, Taylor noted, so he didn’t have an update to provide but one thing he did feel comfortable saying was the quarterback is expected to make a full recovery. The quarterback tore a ligament in his right wrist in the second quarter against Baltimore on Nov. 16 and his season is done.

As for how long that recovery process is expected to take, Taylor wished to wait until Burrow got through the procedure to share any predictions they’ve been given because it would be clearer at that point.

“I would rather get the information coming out of the surgery before we make any prediction on that stuff, but what we do know, we are expecting him to make a full recovery,” Taylor said. “And so, (we’re) encouraged by a lot of the things that would be available to him, but again, I don’t want to put a timeline on it until we get more information after surgery today.”

Taylor did not disclose any details about where the surgery was taking place and who was performing the procedure, but he does expect Burrow will be back in the building Thursday, if he is feeling up to it, when the team holds its first practice ahead of Monday night’s game at Jacksonville.

Burrow was on the sideline Sunday during the team’s 16-10 loss to Pittsburgh, and offensive coordinator Brian Callahan said he wants to be around as much as possible to be a part of conversations in meetings and however he can help.

“I think the strange thing for him is probably that it’s not like he went and had surgery and has been gone for a month and came back,” Callahan said. “He’s still dealing with his season ending 10 days ago or whatever it was. I think it’s a difficult thing to wrap your mind around, to be out there at the game the next week watching someone else run the offense, and not being (in it), I think that’s a hard thing, so I give him a little bit of grace for how difficult that probably is for him.”

Burrow’s teammates also still seem to be wrapping their minds around losing their starting quarterback, the one that played such a large part in the franchise’s turnaround in 2021.

The Bengals continue to express confidence in Jake Browning being able to step up in his absence but when the rest of the team didn’t do enough to help him Sunday, it resulted in a reality check of sorts as Cincinnati fell to 5-6 with its third straight loss.

Shortly after the game ended, wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase was in a state of disbelief. Asked what was going through his mind, his answer was simple: “Nothing.” And, he didn’t have much more to say when asked if it felt like the season was slipping away from the Bengals.

“I don’t know,” Chase said. “It’s my first time feeling like this, so I really don’t know how it’s going to go.”

Chase said all the Bengals can do now is “just keep working” and “moving forward.”

That seems to be what they are doing. Running back Trayveon Williams, who was drafted by the Bengals in 2019, said the players were still in good spirits Monday when they regrouped for team meetings and to study film from the loss.

“That’s one thing I love about this locker room,” Williams said. “Obviously, being here since 2019, it’s a completely different locker room and Zac did an amazing job to get the right guys in here to build the foundation of what we’re trying to do, but at the end of the day it’s the National Football League. Other teams get paid as well, and guys are winning. They are doing their jobs against us but there’s no doubt in this team, there’s not negativity, and we have six more opportunities to do the things we want to do, so we’re excited to get to go out there and do what we want to do and be successful.”

Taylor said motivating the team has not been difficult during this tough stretch, and he takes “a lot of pride” in seeing how the players respond in situations of adversity and he believes they will be ready to bounce back on the national stage next week at Jacksonville.

“These guys understand what’s still in front of them,” Taylor said. “There’s still plenty of opportunity in front of us. And what I’ve learned, this team has faced adversity before. This isn’t the first time, … and what this team has proven to me time and time again, and our coaching staff, is they’re willing to fight through it and pull together and take ownership for the things they can control and maintain a positive attitude that we still got a good team.

“I’m as excited as I’ve ever been to get this team to rally through this and I know that they are too.”


Bengals at Jaguars, 8:15 p.m., ESPN, 700, 1530, 102.7, 104.7

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