Joe Burrow is back, almost. The Cincinnati Bengals have maintained a consistent optimism throughout the offseason that the former No. 1 overall pick would be ready when it mattered in 2021, after suffering a season-ending knee injury that required reconstructive surgery to repair last December -- when he tore both his ACL and MCL in Week 11 against the Washington Football Team. That optimism is thus far materializing into reality, with the physician who performed Burrow's procedure, Dr. Neal ElAttrache of Kerlan-Jobe in Los Angeles, making it clear it's "all systems go" for the 24-year-old to start in Week 1 against the Minnesota Vikings on Sept. 12.
And while that doesn't mean he's 100% in May, he's far along enough to both attend Bengals OTAs and get some throws in. At first glance, you'll notice the brace on his repaired knee, but also how comfortable he looks doing some of the more basic movements required to re-establish his base for tossing darts.
It's a sight for sore eyes in Cincinnati, considering what Burrow means to the franchise's present and future.
"He's on track for full go for start of the season," said ElAttrache to ESPN in late May. "He's doing all the work. He's worked his tail off and been an amazingly mature participant in his recovery. He's focused and great to work with.
"... Notwithstanding the nature of his injury and extent of his reconstruction, his knee is performing perfectly. We just had him tested out here with a high-tech video and biomechanical evaluation and he was ahead of where we anticipated, and well into the return to performance phase of his recovery. With him already performing this way, it's 'all systems go' for the start of the season."
That certainly looks to be the case, but the Bengals will continue to exercise caution with their prized quarterback as OTAs, minicamp and eventually training camp roll along.