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Quick Hits: Burrow Returns To Practice Field; Why Will Grier Signed And Mike Thomas And Stanley Morgan Jr. Stayed

Cincinnati, OH – August 30, 2023 – Story by: Geoff Hobson

Now we know what Bengals head coach Zac Taylor means by “several weeks.”

It’s nearly five. As in 34 days. As in that’s how long between days on the practice field for Pro Bowl quarterback Joe Burrow from when he strained his calf to Wednesday’s work in pads. The first Joe Lee sighting since his Aug. 11 pre-game preseason opener throwing session came at roughly 1:51 p.m. as Burrow climbed the slight paved incline leading to the Kettering Health Practice Fields walking with new backup quarterback Jake Browning and new practice squad quarterback Will Grier.

Burrow threw easily on the side before taking snaps from starting center Ted Karras before moving into stretching. All looked Pro Bowl normal, so far, as Bengaldom exhaled with the Sept. 10 opener in Cleveland 11 days away. As the media’s 30-minute window shut, Burrow took one- and two-step drops throwing crisply to assistant coaches and equipment personnel in what is the Bengals’ usual practice routine.

WHY WILL: With Burrow on the mend, the Bengals went out and got more quarterback depth when they signed veteran Will Grier to the practice squad after he got cut from Dallas in the wake of the Cowboys’ trade for Trey Lance.

The Bengals like his numbers this summer. In the preseason finale, while Browning beat out Trevor Siemian in Washington for the backup job with their only touchdown pass of the preseason, Greer threw for two touchdowns and 305 yards in the Cowboys’ win over the Raiders.

Along with this year’s tape, the Bengals also liked his varied experience with five years in the league since the Panthers took him in the third round out of West Virginia in 2019. He made his only NFL starts in the final two games of that season, leaving the second one early with an injury. He didn’t get in a game for the Panthers the next season and in the last two seasons served primarily as the Cowboys No. 3 QB without getting into a game.

Grier, 28, said he decided on the Bengals quickly Tuesday night with the help of advisers who pointed to an organization with an owner, player personnel director, and head coach who all played college quarterback.

“Dartmouth, right?” Grier asked of Bengals president Mike Brown. “I heard there was a lot of good quarterback experience here and that it was a quarterback-friendly place. Honestly, it’s also a good team. That was a big part of it. To go to as competitive team with a chance to make a run at the playoffs.”

PRACTICE SQUAD: There were virtually no surprises on the practice squad that was announced late in Wednesday’s practice. The only player who had a big preseason, got cut and wasn’t on the practice squad was edge Raymond Johnson III.

They signed a pair of veterans who had solid training camps in tight end Tanner Hudson and cornerback Sidney Jones IV, until he pulled a hamstring and missed the last two preseason games.

And no surprise they signed two or their more valued locker room leaders in safety Mike Thomas and wide receiver Stanley Morgan Jr., supplanted by two draft picks.

“I can help those young guys. I play the same position,” said Morgan, who never felt like leaving. “This is like my family here.”

They would have gone for an active roster job. But Thomas, the oldest Bengal nicknamed ‘Uncle Mike,’ for his gentle sagacity, wasn’t about to make a lateral move.

“It’s a great thing for guys like me and it’s great for the teams,’ said Thomas of the expanded practice squad that allows six vets. “It extends guys’ careers and it allows teams that have to pay younger guys to still have veteran leadership.”

Thomas sensed this would happen. After Saturday’s preseason finale he gave his No. 31 jersey to Tycen Anderson, the man who beat him out to be the fourth safety.

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