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Around the AFC North: Ja'Marr Chase Doesn't Want Joe Burrow to Return Until He's 100 Percent

Cincinnati Bengals' Trevor Siemian throws a pass during a drill at the NFL football team's minicamp in Cincinnati, Friday, June 14, 2023.
Cincinnati Bengals' Trevor Siemian throws a pass during a drill at the NFL football team's minicamp in Cincinnati, Friday, June 14, 2023.

Cincinnati Bengals: Ja'Marr Chase Tells Joe Burrow to Take His Tim Returning From Calf Injury

Joe Burrow is the Bengals' most important player, but his favorite target doesn't want his quarterback to rush back from injury.

Pro Bowl wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase told reporters Sunday that he doesn't want Burrow to play until he's 100% recovered from his calf injury. Even if that means Burrow misses the Bengals' regular season opener at Cleveland, or Week 2 when they host the Ravens in Cincinnati.

If Burrow missed those games, backup Trevor Siemian would start for Cincinnati against two AFC North opponents. However, Chase said he's looking at the big picture – having Burrow healthy for the bulk of the season.

"I just want him to be 100% healthy to play," Chase said via Jeremy Rauch of FOX 19 in Cincinnati. "I don't want him rushing nothing. I don't want people in his ear telling him to play a certain time. I just want him to be healthy."

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported that Burrow has a "relatively minor or moderate calf strain" that isn't expected to sideline him for Week 1.

Burrow's importance to the Bengals can't be overlooked. He missed 19 days of practice last year after undergoing an appendectomy, and though he returned for Week 1, the Bengals started 0-2 and struggled offensively during the first month of the season.

Most pundits, such as Matt Verderame of Sports Illustrated, believe that Cincinnati's fortunes depend heavily on Burrow.

But Chase believes Bengals will be fine in the long run, if Burrow doesn't re-aggravate his injury by rushing back too soon.

"We'd be OK as long as he's there for the end of the season," Chase said Sunday. "We're worried about the bigger picture, not the small picture here."

Pittsburgh Steelers: Pro Bowl Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick Returns to Camp

After being excused from the first week of training camp for personal reasons, Pro Bowl safety Minkah Fitzpatrick rejoined the Steelers over the weekend. Fitzpatrick didn't provide details about the reason for his absence, but he appreciated having the support of Head Coach Mike Tomlin.

"He told me go, you know what I'm saying?" Fitzpatrick said via Brooke Pryor of "He said, 'Go be there for your family. Go do what you got to do.' And it wasn't an issue at all. They were making sure I was good every day. You definitely appreciate a coach and a program that takes care of family."

Fitzpatrick doesn't anticipate needing any more time away from camp.

"Life takes its course, but hopefully I'm here for the long run," Fitzpatrick said.

Cleveland Browns: Rookie QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson Impressed in Debut

Deshaun Watson is firmly entrenched as the Browns' starting quarterback and Joshua Dobbs is his presumed backup. However, there's a battle between fifth-round pick Dorian Thompson-Robinson and Kellen Mond for the No. 3 quarterback role and a possible roster spot. Thompson-Robinson may have taken the early edge, leading the Browns to a 21-16 comeback victory over the Jets in the Hall of Fame Game.

"Super fun being out there," Thompson-Robinson said via Scott Petrak of the Chronicle-Telegram and Medina Gazette. "I just tried my best to focus on my job, my job only. Making sure I got guys line up, get the play calls out. I think I did a pretty good job."

After the game, Thompson-Robinson received congrats for his performance from Aaron Rodgers, the Jets' starting quarterback who watched from the sideline.

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