Ben Baby, ESPN Staff WriterNov 17, 2023, 02:48 PM ET
- Ben Baby covers the Cincinnati Bengals for ESPN. He joined the company in July 2019. Prior to ESPN, he worked for various newspapers in Texas, most recently at The Dallas Morning News where he covered college sports.
He provides daily coverage of the Bengals for ESPN.com, while making appearances on SportsCenter, ESPN’s NFL shows and ESPN Radio programs.
A native of Grapevine, Texas, he graduated from the University of North Texas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is an adjunct journalism professor at Southern Methodist University and a member of the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA).
CINCINNATI — Joe Burrow‘s season is over.
An MRI showed the Cincinnati Bengals quarterback suffered a torn ligament in his right wrist in Thursday’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens. The team termed the issue as an acute injury that likely occurred in the second quarter. On the next play, Burrow threw a 4-yard touchdown pass in what will likely be his final throw of 2023.
“It’s tough,” Burrow said Friday afternoon. “You work so hard for seasons and moments like these. Whenever you get hurt and it ends early, it’s tough to handle. That’s a part of the game.”
Burrow said he landed on the wrist after he was hit by Ravens defensive end Jadeveon Clowney on a 9-yard play in Baltimore’s red zone. On the next play, Burrow went down in pain after he fired the touchdown pass to Mixon.
“I felt a pop in the middle of the throw,” said Burrow. “I tried to give it a go but couldn’t get it done.”
After he initially suspected it was a severe injury, he received confirmation when the news was delivered to him Friday morning. Jake Browning, the team’s backup quarterback who finished the game in Burrow’s absence, will now be the starter for the foreseeable future.
On Friday, Bengals coach Zac Taylor said the initial information shows that players who suffer this type of injury are able to make a full recovery. However, Taylor did not have an immediate timeline on when Burrow will have surgery or when he could return. Both Taylor and Burrow said they are still gathering more information about the injury.
This is the second time that Burrow has suffered a season-ending injury in his four-year career. The top overall pick in the 2020 draft saw his rookie year cut short when he suffered multiple torn ligaments in his left knee in a Week 11 loss to Washington.
Taylor said it was unfortunate to see a player such as Burrow, who works especially hard to make sure he’s as healthy as possible to be on the field, have another season end prematurely.
“It kills you to watch somebody have to go through this, you know, several times now,” Taylor said.
On Wednesday, photo and video surfaced of Burrow wearing something on his right wrist ahead of the game against Baltimore. One of those was posted by the team on social media and promptly deleted.
Burrow said it was a compression sleeve, something that he has worn in the past as he deals with minor issues over the course of the season.
“It’s not uncommon for guys to wear a compression sleeve on a plane because when you go up to that altitude, things can swell up,” Burrow said Friday. “Football, you have a lot of bumps and bruises. This is a completely new injury.”
However, the NFL is investigating as to why Burrow was not listed on the team’s injury report leading up to Thursday’s game, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Taylor said he had not spoken to the league regarding the issue.
This isn’t the first time that Burrow has been injured this season.
On the second day of training camp, Burrow suffered a strained right calf that forced him to miss several weeks. He returned for the start of the season but reinjured the calf in Week 2 against Baltimore. However, he did not miss a game despite the issue.
Just as with the wrist, Burrow was seen wearing a compression sleeve on the calf before he went down. Taylor said he did not see any commonalities between the situations.
The Bengals invested in Burrow as their franchise quarterback after he helped the Bengals reach the Super Bowl after the 2021 season and the AFC Championship Game after the 2022 season, where Cincinnati lost both times. He was given a five-year extension worth $275 million, with $219.01 million of that guaranteed. The deal’s annual average value of $55 million is an NFL record.
The Bengals (5-5) will turn to Browning as it looks to stay in the postseason hunt after the loss to the Ravens that has them currently outside of the playoff picture. Browning was 8-of-14 passing for 68 yards and a late touchdown with the score out of reach.
The former Washington standout has been with Cincinnati since the beginning of the 2021 season and won the team’s back-up job in training camp over veteran Trevor Siemian. Browning said he was “bummed” when he found out that Burrow was going to be out for the season but added that he looked forward to being able to show what he’s capable of doing.
“He’s a big part of this team obviously,” Browning said. “But I’m not gonna hide the fact that I’m excited for my opportunity. I think everybody in here, including Joe, kind of knows that.”
Burrow said he’ll continue to be around the team. As he continues to come to grips with the end of his season, Burrow said he isn’t going to allow himself anytime to wallow over the latest injury.
“A lot of guys in that (locker) room are injured, have been injured,” Burrow said. “A lot of guys across the league, that’s part of the job that we do. (It’s) expected. It’s not gonna be the last time something like this happens in my career, too. That’s just part of it.”