Former Vikings QB Could Start for Bengals This Week

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Like the Minnesota Vikings, the Cincinnati Bengals fell into an 0-2 hole to start the 2023 regular season.

Unlike the Vikings, the Bengals may be forced to salvage the season in Week 3 without their starting quarterback.

Former Vikings QB Could Start for Bengals This Week

Joe Burrow is battling a calf injury, and his prognosis for Week 3 — a Monday Night Football showdown at home against the scrappy Los Angeles Rams — is in doubt. If Burrow is in a no-go in seven days, Cincinnati would presumably turn to a former Vikings quarterback, Jake Browning.

Could Start for Bengals
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Jake Browning (6) drops back to throw during a training camp practice at the Paycor Stadium practice field in downtown Cincinnati on Wednesday, July 26, 2023. © Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted Monday about Burrow, “Bengals’ HC Zac Taylor told reporters that it was hard to say whether Joe Burrow would be ready to play next Monday night vs. the Rams due to his aggravated calf injury. The Bengals still are in the evaluation process.”

And if Burrow is unavailable, Browning would throw his first NFL pass on one of the NFL’s grandest stages, under the lights of MNF.

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Browning joined the Vikings in April 2019 via undrafted free agency and remained with the club for two and half years, mostly on the practice squad. At Washington in college, he performed admirably, even diming 43 touchdowns to just 9 picks in the 2016 campaign.

During his Viking stint, Browning battled for the “other” quarterback spot, usually at QB3 or QB4, with some assortment of Sean Mannion, Kyle Sloter, and Kellen Mond. In fact, Cousins and Mond fell ill with the coronavirus in the summer of 2021, and Browning took the reins of the Vikings offense in a night scrimmage at training camp and turned heads. Some even believed he played well enough to secure a QB2 job, but later, the aforementioned Mannion swooped in for the gig. Browning was waived soon after.

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Jake Browning (6) throws a pass during the Cincinnati Bengals fan day practice at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati on Saturday, July 29, 2023. © Albert Cesare/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Cincinnati signed Browning a week after his Vikings exodus, where he’s predominantly lived on the practice squad since.

Too, the Bengals knew this summer and early in the regular season that Burrow was an injury risk. He was injured in July, and folks actually wondered for weeks if he’d be ready for Week 1. Ultimately, Burrow did start the first two games of 2023, but with a shaky health prognosis, so Cincinnati must trust Browning as the go-to QB1 in Burrow’s stead. Otherwise, it would’ve explored a free-agent alternative like Nick Foles or Carson Wentz.

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Cincinnati employs one other quarterback on its roster, albeit on the practice squad, 2019 3rd-Rounder Will Grier from the University of West Virginia.

Browning’s teammate, Irv Smith, also played for the Vikings from 2019 to 2022.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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