Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa saw the benefits of playing in an empty Paul Brown Stadium for Sunday’s season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Bosa doesn’t like to be disturbed when he enters his matchday zone. He is not bothered by stadium traffic, screaming fans and friends asking for help at the ticket booth.
The star pass rusher will be able to walk relaxed into the field before starting his detailed pieces.
Bosa going undisturbed before kickoff could be bad news for Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, who has to make his NFL debut against his former Ohio State teammate and Chargers pass-rushing partner Melvin Ingram.
“Luckily I was running twos (second team) and threes (third team) at the time,” said Burrow of Bosa during college workouts. Being Bosa.
“They are two of the top 10 pass rushers in the league. It’s going to be a good challenge for us and I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
That kind of answer is why the Bengals are all in on their No. 1 overall pick of April and made him team captain as a rookie. The confident quarterback always seems to embrace the toughest obstacles, even something as daunting as taking on Bosa and Ingram with no preseason games and behind an inexperienced line of attack.
Bengal’s left tackle Jonah Williams will also have to make his NFL debut against Bosa. Williams was called up to Alabama’s No. 11 in 2019 but missed his rookie season due to a shoulder injury.
“I’ll have to get the ball out of my hands quickly and know what I’m looking at,” said Burrow. “If I don’t know what I’m looking at, it will be a long day.”
Bosa has high hopes for Burrow’s NFL career, but he practically guaranteed that Burrow will have a long day for his debut.
“If he can do (what he did at LSU) in the NFL, he’s going to be a serious weapon,” Bosa said. “It won’t happen this first week, but I think he will have a good career.… Rookie comes with inexperience. He certainly hasn’t had a (defense) line like ours yet.”
Bosa has different memories than Burrow as Buckeyes teammates in 2015, before Burrow switched to LSU and started arguably the best college season for a quarterback by winning the Heisman Trophy and a national title.
Bosa said he met his former temmate in training because Burrow was the quarterback on the Ohio state scout team. But again, Burrow probably remembers a 6-foot-5, 280-pound defensive lineman chasing him.
The Chargers expect Burrow to make mistakes in his first NFL game, but they won’t take him lightly, especially after he threw for 5,671 yards and 60 touchdowns last season while facing SEC defense weekly.
There will be an element of surprise if the Chargers don’t know what a Bengali crime involving Burrow looks like. Burrow will have a lot of guns with running back Joe Mixon, tight C.J. Uzomah and wide receivers A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd.
Chargers cornerback Casey Hayward claimed this week that the Bengals ‘skill players are on par with the many Kansas City Chiefs’ playmakers.
Perhaps this could be a good test for the Chargers’ revamped secondary before facing off against the Chiefs at SoFi Stadium next week. The Chargers lost Derwin James safety due to a knee surgery that was at the end of the season, but they added cornerback Chris Harris Jr. and have depth with a healthy Nasir Adderley, the free safety who missed most of his rookie season in 2019 with a hamstring injury.
The Chargers are preferred for their experience, even with new starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who started 43 games for the Buffalo Bills between 2015 and 2017, which is why Sunday’s game won’t duel two first-round quarterbacks in their debut .
No. 6 overall pick and former Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert will stand on the sidelines of the Chargers and watch Burrow try to come up with a solid defense that he regularly sees in the field.
Herbert may have more physical aids than Burrow, but he’s behind Burrow on the mental side of football. That’s why the Bengals made Burrow the starter from Day 1 and the Chargers decided to be patient with Herbert.
“He’s preparing as well as anyone I’ve ever experienced and really understands what we’re trying to achieve on offense and as a team,” said Bengals coach Zac Taylor of Burrow. “He’s earned (the job). We gave him the first team reps on the first day he was here, but he certainly lived up to being a starter.… Everyone saw how he performed at training camp. can see that the man belongs. “
The Chargers will find out on Sunday whether Burrow belongs on an NFL field so quickly.