Joe Burrow unlikely to play in preseason, Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown says

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CINCINNATI -- Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow is fully cleared for football activities. However, don't expect the team to rush its franchise quarterback back into action as he continues recovering from a devastating knee injury.

During the team's annual media luncheon Monday, Bengals owner and president Mike Brown said the team will likely withhold Burrow from the team's three preseason games.

"We probably aren't going to put him out there until we get to the season because we don't want to risk anything with him," Brown said in his first news conference since 2019. "But his effort rehabbing was A-plus."

Burrow was not listed on the team's physically unable to perform list as the Bengals prepared for the first official training camp practice on Wednesday. That exclusion, along with his participation in every organized team activity during the offseason, indicates he will be ready for the team's season opener against the Minnesota Vikings on Sept. 12.

Burrow, the top overall pick in the 2020 draft, tore multiple ligaments in his left knee in the team's loss to Washington on Nov. 22. He had surgery to repair the damage in early December. Bengals coach Zac Taylor was hesitant to say any plan was set in stone, stating that the progress will be evaluated on a week-to-week basis.

However, the third-year coach indicated Burrow will take a significant step during training camp. He is expected to participate in the team's 11-on-11 practice drills as the Bengals look to decrease the precautions to protect him.

"At some point, you can't be overprotective," Taylor said. "It's football. You've got to let him get out there and experience it."

The Bengals are banking on the 2019 Heisman Trophy winner to be the catalyst to ending a playoff drought that stretches to 2015. In his rookie year, Burrow made 10 starts and completed 65.3% of his passes for 2,688 yards and 13 touchdowns with five interceptions.

Brown said the franchise appreciates Burrow's rehab work this offseason and noted the team's dependence on the quarterback. Taylor said Burrow is eager to get as much preseason work as possible as he prepares for his comeback season.

"He had a great spring," Taylor said. "He's had a great summer. He's ready to get back at it."