Joe Burrow to get every opportunity to start for Bengals, coach Zac Taylor says

CINCINNATI -- Bengals coach Zac Taylor did everything but name rookie Joe Burrow as the team's starting quarterback on Wednesday.

In his first news conference since players reported, Taylor wasn't shy about addressing what is required of the top overall pick in April's NFL draft. Taylor said Burrow will receive plenty of opportunities to play in the season opener against the Los Angeles Chargers, even with the limitations in place because of the coronavirus pandemic.

"We're going to put a lot on Joe right out of the gate," Taylor said. "Obviously we have weeks to sort out who's starting and all that good stuff, but Joe's going to walk in and take the first snaps at quarterback. He's prepared for that."

The Bengals drafted Burrow with the first overall pick after the 23-year-old had a whirlwind season at LSU. He threw 60 touchdown passes, won the Heisman Trophy and helped the Tigers win the national championship.

Cincinnati, which is coming off its worst season since 2002, is looking for Burrow to eventually have the same effect on a franchise that hasn't won a playoff game since January 1991. This offseason, the Bengals moved on from veteran quarterback Andy Dalton, the team's primary starter for the past nine seasons.

Throughout the offseason, Burrow has made several steps toward immediately filling that void. The rookie took a major step earlier this week when he agreed to terms on a four-year contract worth $36.1 million that includes the standard fifth-year team option for first-round picks.

Because of the negotiations between the NFL and the NFLPA in the wake of the pandemic, there will be no preseason games this season, which means Burrow's first snaps against someone other than his teammates would be on Sept. 13 against the Chargers if he is named the starter.

The circumstances haven't tempered Taylor's public expectations. On Wednesday, the second-year coach said the starting point is for Burrow to play well in Week 1.

The Bengals drafted Burrow because of their confidence in him and what he brings to the team. Asked if Taylor's expectations might be a bit too lofty, the coach disagreed with that notion.

"We took him because we've got high expectations for Joe," Taylor said. "And from everything I know about him and have seen of him, he's got high expectations for himself. And so he's going to do everything he can to put himself in a position to be successful. I trust that."