Cincinnati Bengals backup quarterback Brandon Allen received a text from Joe Burrow on Tuesday.
It was three words: “Tag, you’re in.”
For those who’ve watched Burrow’s press conferences, this is exactly how he operates. Short, succinct and to the point with some dry humor. Burrow leaked the news to Allen before head coach Zac Taylor called Allen to inform him of the decision.
Taylor opted to rest Burrow against the Browns for a few reasons, most notably his health. Burrow banged up his right knee in the final seconds of Cincinnati’s Week 17 win over the Chiefs and he says he is “sore.” He also reiterated if Sunday’s game had any meaning in terms of the Bengals needing to secure a spot, he would be able to play. After beating Kansas City, Cincinnati clinched a postseason berth and is the current No. 3 seed in the AFC.
Burrow said the mental break he’ll get from not playing this weekend could be just as important as the physical one because of the expectations placed on the Bengals during the late playoff push.
“It’s a long season,” Burrow said. “Every game matters when you’re fighting for the playoffs. It can get kind of exhausting mentally. It’s been kind of nice these last couple days to sleep past 7 a.m. a couple days and go to bed a little later and just kind of take my mind off of doing my job each week. I’ve kind of been able to take a step back and help Brandon (Allen) in whatever he needs and also take a look at our possible first opponents for the first week of the playoffs. “
Don’t expect many of the Bengals’ starters to play a significant amount of snaps on Sunday if they play at all. Allen will be throwing to wide receivers like Stanley Morgan and Michael Thomas for much of the game. Pro Bowl running back Joe Mixon is not likely to play as he was placed on the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday. This means a bulk of the carries will go to Samaje Perine and Chris Evans, who Allen could also get involved in the passing game.
“I think I’ve always had the confidence that I can play in this league and perform well,” Allen said of the opportunity.
Offensive coordinator Brian Callahan said the game-planning process for the coaching staff remains the same with Allen in for Burrow. The expectation is for Allen, a five-year NFL veteran, to play at a high level. Allen joined the Bengals in training camp of 2020 after spending a year with Taylor in Los Angeles as a practice squad player for the Rams in 2018. Drafted in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars, Allen spent time with Broncos before landing in Cincinnati with Taylor.
Allen has experience starting games for the Bengals with this coaching staff. When Burrow suffered his season-ending knee injury in Week 11 of the 2020 season, Allen finished the season for Cincinnati as the starting quarterback. He started five games and completed 90 of 142 passes for 925 yards, five touchdowns while throwing four interceptions.
“At the end of the day, we expect Brandon to play good football,” Callahan said. “I thought Brandon did a really nice job for us last year in the times he got to play. I expect for him to do the same this week.”
The Browns will also be starting their backup quarterback, Case Keenum, as Baker Mayfield has been ruled out to finish the season as he deals with a shoulder injury.
This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Cincinnati Bengals backup quarterback Brandon Allen : What to know