It’s difficult enough for rookies to acclimate themselves to the NFL under normal circumstances, so one can only imagine how challenging an all-virtual offseason must be for those entering the league in 2020.
Transitioning into the NFL world can be especially complex for incoming rookie quarterbacks, including Cincinnati Bengals’ No.1 pick Joe Burrow.
It turns out that Burrow is rising to the challenge despite how the coronavirus pandemic has upended traditional offseason programs like OTAs and minicamps.
Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan recently praised Burrow for how the 23-year-old quarterback has been “exceptional” while making the best of an extremely difficult situation.
“He has a really, really good feel for understanding protection schemes and how to get himself protected and where his issues are in the protection scheme, so that part has been really impressive,” Callahan said of how Burrow has adeptly transitioned to an all-virtual offseason, via Ben Baby of ESPN. “He’s dialed in. He comes into the meeting and competes.”
The Bengals coaching staff has had to adjust on the fly, and it sounds like their handling of Burrow has included some creative ways to simulate what he would have been learning on the field. This month, Callahan says Burrow will virtually call plays as if he’s in a huddle, as defensive formations will be depicted onscreen so the rookie can learn pre-snap calls.
“It remains to be seen how effective that will be, but it’s better than not doing it,” Callahan said. “Now, at least those guys can hear each other communicate, and that’s the biggest thing we try to get to.”
Burrow obviously has been unable to truly acquaint himself with Bengals receivers, let alone throw passes to them. In the interim, Burrow is working with his former teammates at Ohio’s Athens High School in a quasi-training camp setting.
While not ideal, it appears Burrow is doing his best amid such unprecedented circumstances. Between his work on the field at home and efforts in virtual team meetings, the Bengals clearly are pleased with his efforts. Burrow’s stated confidence amid all the challenges cannot hurt, either.