Healthy Burrow aiming to take Bengals one step further

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Despite a breakout second NFL season capped by an unexpected run to the Super Bowl, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow is not resting on his accomplishments.

Burrow and the Bengals have entered preparations for the 2022 season with a sense of unfinished business after coming up just short of earning the franchise's first NFL championship.

To illustrate that point, the league's 2021 Comeback Player of the Year revealed he is taking his personal trainer with him to an upcoming trip to Las Vegas with teammate Jesse Bates, simply because he does not want to miss a workout between now and training camp.

"That is a great message for our team," Bengals coach Zac Taylor told reporters following Tuesday's voluntary practice.

"When your leadership is making those statements, it trickles down to the entirety of the roster. If they want to keep up, they have got to get on that level.

"That is what we want as a team. That is where we want to get to, and we have just got to be prepared when the first day of training camp rolls around that we don't miss a beat."

AFC North: Bengals are defending champions
AFC North: Bengals are defending champions

Burrow enters the summer in a better place physically than a year ago, when he was completing the recovery process from a torn anterior cruciate ligament that ended his promising 2020 rookie campaign after 10 games.

The 25-year-old said the knee sprain he sustained during the fourth quarter of Cincinnati’s 23-20 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LVI has not been an issue during offseason workouts.

"I have just been able to focus on the entirety of myself, weight room and conditioning, on field, throwing, mechanics, all of it's not really focusing on the knee," Burrow said.

"It's just getting back to where I was prior. And I've been able to focus on the entirety of myself as a player."

Burrow made tremendous strides in his second NFL campaign, setting Bengals season records for passing yards (4,611) and touchdown passes (34) and leading Cincinnati to its first playoff appearance since 2015.

The 2020 number one overall pick still feels there is room for further improvement and said he is focused on taking his play to the next level.

"Continue to be critical of yourself and the things that you can improve on and continue to raise the level of play of your teammates. I don't think he has any hesitancy to do that," Taylor said.

"That's what's encouraging. You want a guy who's really got the mental makeup of exactly what you want from your quarterback.

"We have extremely high expectations for Joe, but I don't think anyone has higher expectations than he has for himself. And that is a great starting point for a guy that's leading your team like that."

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