From ‘Joe Cool’ to ice-cold: Burrow, Bengals look to bounce back vs. Cardinals

Oct 5, 2023, 9:00 PM | Updated: Oct 6, 2023, 7:20 am

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow walks on the sideline during the first half of the team's...

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow walks on the sideline during the first half of the team's preseason NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers on Friday, Aug. 11, 2023, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)

(AP Photo/Jeff Dean)

GLENDALE (AP) — Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals haven’t looked much like an elite team through four weeks.

There’s time for that to change. But it needs to happen soon.

The Bengals (1-3) travel to face the Arizona Cardinals (1-3) on Sunday in a game that Burrow has already declared a nearly must-win matchup.

Cincinnati has enjoyed deep playoff runs the past two seasons, including a trip to the Super Bowl during the 2021 season.

“I’m still very confident in what we have,” Burrow said. “We’ve got to get better. We’ve scored three touchdowns. That’s not near good enough. We’ve got a ways to go, but we have the guys in that room to do it, we’ve got the coaches to do it.”

Burrow — who before the season became the highest-paid player in the NFL — has been slowed by a calf injury that’s limited his mobility. The quarterback said he felt good at practice on Wednesday and hasn’t had any setbacks with the calf since aggravating the injury late in a loss to Baltimore on Sept. 17.

“I try not to be frustrated,” Burrow said. “That’s not going to get anybody anywhere. You just adapt to what you’re dealing with, adapt to how you need to play. And you take that week to week, day to day.”

Cardinals linebacker Zaven Collins said he’s aware that the Bengals have been struggling, but noted that their roster is full of the same guys who helped the team advance to the Super Bowl two seasons ago.

“You’ve got to give credit where it’s due, every team is an NFL team and they’ve all got dudes on the roster,” Collins said. “They all do. We’ll treat those guys with the same respect if they’re 0-4 or 4-0.”

Higgins hurting

The Bengals could be without one of their top receivers on Sunday. Tee Higgins left last week’s loss to the Titans with a rib injury and hasn’t practiced. He’s considered day to day. Higgins has caught just 12 of 32 targets in four games for 129 yards, but has two of Cincinnati’s total three touchdowns this season. Ja’Marr Chase doesn’t have any touchdown catches — more the fault of a limited Burrow and the offensive line — but is starting to get some traction, getting 141 and 73 passing yards in the past two games.

Bengals tight end could return

Cincinnati coach Zac Taylor said tight end Irv Smith Jr. is working his way back. He was listed as having limited participation in practice on Wednesday after missing the past two games with a hamstring injury. The former Viking was signed as a free agent in the offseason to replace Hayden Hurst, who had 414 receiving yards and two TDs last season and then signed with Carolina.

“We’ll be smart how we utilize him,” Taylor said.

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From ‘Joe Cool’ to ice-cold: Burrow, Bengals look to bounce back vs. Cardinals