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Tuesday Trenches: Camp Shmamp

Four years in and four years without a normal camp. Does it matter?

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Kareem Elgazzar/The Cincinnati Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

Everyone knows what happened to Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow at training camp last week.

The superstar quarterback strained his calf and had to be carted off the field. It was later determined that he will miss “several” weeks, but it seems that his status for Week 1 against the Browns is not in jeopardy.

What is going to happen is Burrow will miss the rest of training camp and likely miss most of the preseason, if not all of it. This will be Burrow’s fourth offseason, and he has yet to have what we could consider a normal training camp or preseason. So many fans were looking forward to the first full offseason for Burrow. That ship has sailed, the question is this: does it matter?

Probably not.

In year one, Burrow had to deal with Covid during training camp, when there was no such thing as normal. He finished that season early after suffering a brutal knee injury against the Commanders in late November. He missed the rest of the season.

Then in year two, he didn’t play in training camp or the preseason as he rehabbed from his knee injury, but he was ready to go by Week 1 and led the Bengals to the Super Bowl, where they lost to the Rams by three.

In year three, he had to be hospitalized and underwent an emergency appendectomy, missing the entire preseason once again. After a slow start, he once again led the team on a deep playoff run, losing the AFC Championship game to the Chiefs by three.

Now, we have the calf injury.

So, that’s two complete seasons, both without a training camp or preseason, and one ended with a Super Bowl loss, and one ended with a close loss in the AFC Championship Game to the eventual Super Bowl winners. That’s five playoff wins and two close losses in two seasons in which the quarterback didn’t take a single snap in the preseason.

With the most complete team, including the best offensive line of Burrow’s young career, the Bengals are primed to make another Super Bowl run. While it would be ideal for Burrow to remain completely healthy throughout the preseason, it’s clear it’s not necessary. He’s not going to forget how to play football in a couple of short weeks. He won’t lose the connection he has with Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd before September.

We don’t need to worry about Burrow, and with the core of the team under contract for at least this season, we don’t need to worry about much.

A few, a couple, or several. It doesn’t matter. As long as Burrow is healthy when the games count, the team will be fine. The Bengals feel the same way. They signed a backup quarterback, Reid Sinnett, a former XFL player, as an extra camp body while Burrow completes rehab. Had they signed someone like Carson Wentz or Nick Foles, it would be clear they were concerned that Burrow might not be 100 percent by September 10. They obviously are comfortable with Burrow’s timeline for return.

We should be too.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy what’s left of camp and the preseason beginning this weekend. Football is almost back, and Burrow will be taking snaps before you know it.

Who Dey!