Joe Burrow lit up the defense on Friday, leading the offense to two touchdown drives, both culminating in endzone fades to Auden Tate.
Sunday, though, was a different story.
The defense bounced back with an encouraging showing, holding Burrow and the offense to two long Randy Bullock field goals in 11-on-11 and two-minute drills. Carlos Dunlap ran past Jonah Williams and “sacked” Burrow. The veteran Pro Bowl defense end also stopped running back Joe Mixon in the backfield a couple of times. And Geno Atkins - who was infamously “pancaked” by Michael Jordan - got further revenge against the second-year guard by driving him backwards five yards.
Still, it’s important to remember that Burrow and the offense are playing without some of their biggest weapons, A.J. Green and John Ross. The latter returned on Sunday, but only participated in 1-on-1 drills. Meanwhile, Tee Higgins returned to practice and almost caught a touchdown from the rookie QB. And, of course, Green is probably healthy enough to practice. One can only imagine the advantage he’ll give Burrow when he does return.
In the meantime, Burrow is developing tremendous chemistry with Tyler Boyd, a very intuitive receiver, and Auden Tate, who has exceptional skills. So far, Tate has turned heads in practice, which might be an indication of this coming season; the third-year receiver might just become a big contributor with Burrow throwing to him, as the rookie is truly gifted at leading his receivers to open space. Even Drew Sample has looked impressive, turning a grab into a 42-yard reception.
In short, Burrow has been stellar and, according to those who’ve actually watched practice, looked nothing like a rookie. But after he’s had so much success early on, it’s nice to see the defense respond.