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Bengals QB Joe Burrow confident he's put in work to 'make sure I'm healthy' 

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow has seen the worst of the injured reserve in his NFL career.

A knee injury ended his rookie season and placed him on a long road back to the field. Three years later, a calf strain suffered in training camp reduced him to a statue in the pocket for the first month of the 2023 season, and just as he broke free from the granite, a wrist injury ended his campaign.

Sometimes in life, the worst experiences end up providing us with the best lessons. Burrow has certainly learned, and is adjusting accordingly entering the 2024 season.

"I'm confident I've put all the work in I need to make sure I'm healthy," Burrow recently told the team's official site. "I'm continuing year-to-year to better hone that and make that more efficient. Maybe listen to my body a little more throughout the offseason and not push through things that maybe I have in the past. I'm just starting to learn my body more and more."

It's good for Burrow to get to know his body, considering it's his -- and Cincinnati's -- most important asset. As the Bengals learned in 2023, they'll only go as far as Burrow is capable of taking them, and he can't do that if he can't carry himself onto the field.

As he aims to return to the field in 2024, he'll find some new faces. Running back Joe Mixon is off to Houston, and Burrow's offensive coordinator, Brian Callahan, is now the head coach in Tennessee.

But the changes should be relatively minimal. Cincinnati promoted Burrow's quarterbacks coach, Dan Pitcher, to replace Callahan, and elevated Pitcher's lieutenant, Brad Kragthorpe, to fill his vacant position.

So, some folks will be missing, and a handful of replacements -- the Bengals signed running back Zack Moss this spring -- will fill their spots. But after ascending to the AFC throne in 2021, falling back behind the Chiefs in 2022 and failing to threaten for it in 2023, the Bengals know what it takes to get back there. And it doesn't require much change.

"The goal is to stay as close to the same as you can. It's why we promoted Pitch, it's why we promoted Brad," Burrow said. "We tried to keep most of the things in-house and then we had a couple of additions that we think will bring a new element to our process. I think that's always a good thing, too. I'm excited to see what that working relationship is going to be like.

"Whoever is here, you're going to self-scout and tweak what you did from last year to be a better offense."

The ingredient most important to improving might simply be availability. Burrow admitted that starts with him.

"We have to be more consistent than we were last year. Part of that was the injury to me," Burrow said. "I think we just need to take that next step as an offense. Be more consistent series-to-series. We've been pretty good game-to-game, but I think if we really want to be one of those top one to three offenses in the league, we have to be more consistent."

Consistency was an issue in 2023, but much of it could have been chalked up to Burrow's health. He simply couldn't maneuver the pocket in the first month of the season while he gutted out the calf issue. When the gray clouds finally parted, Burrow looked like his old self -- and the rest of the league once again had reason to fear the Bengals.

Burrow is hoping to inspire the same fright in opponents in 2024.

"We know we have the right people in place to reach our goals," Burrow said. "It's just about putting all those pieces together and finding our roles to optimize what we can do."

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