In these Dec. 14, 2019, file photos, Joe Burrow, left, and Chase Young attend the Heisman Award ceremonies in New York. Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals visit Chase Young and Washington in a matchup of the top two picks in this years NFL draft. (AP Photo/Jason Szenes, File)
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) looks to throw a pass during the second half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
LANDOVER, Md. (AP) Before the Cincinnati Bengals selected Joe Burrow to be their franchise quarterback, the owners of the top pick in the NFL draft met with Chase Young, who was considered a generational pass rusher.
It wasn't a straightforward choice.
''Any time you're picking in the top five, you have a chance to really change the dynamic of your team with whoever you select,'' coach Zac Taylor said. ''We had the opportunity to pick No. 1 and we took Joe Burrow, and we're very thankful that we did that.''
The Bengals are glad they have Burrow, and Washington is thankful Young fell to them at No. 2. The top picks face off Sunday, more than halfway through the first pro season of two potential cornerstone stars who are also going through growing pains typical of even the most talented players.
Burrow ranks third in the league with 242 completions, but beat himself up for ''lazy'' play in a blowout loss to Pittsburgh that dropped Cincinnati to 2-6-1. Young paces all rookies with 3 1/2 sacks, but committed a costly roughing-the-passer penalty Sunday that set up Detroit to win at the buzzer and make Washington 2-7.
Each player could win rookie of the year honors on his side of the ball, but isn't satisfied with his performance.
''My decision making wasn't as sharp as it was,'' said Burrow, who shrugged off an ankle injury. ''Things weren't clicking for me as fast as they normally do.''
Young was going too fast to stop before hitting Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford and was quick to own up to his ''rookie mistake'' and move on.
''I learn from my mistakes, and my mistakes help me grow,'' Young said Thursday. ''I'm going to just be a man about everything I do.''
When the Bengals visited with Young before the draft, that's exactly what Taylor saw - not a kid, but ''a very impressive man.'' Burrow knew that from their time together at Ohio State, before he transferred to LSU, where he won the Heisman Trophy and a national title.
''One of a kind: He's a rare talent that is going to continue to get better every single game and every year,'' Burrow said. ''You just always have to have a game plan for those kind of guys.''
Young and Washington's top-ranked passing defense is planning for Burrow and the Bengals, who have allowed the second-most sacks in the NFL. Cincinnati will likely double- (or triple-) team Young like so many opponents already have, but he isn't shying away from trying to get to his old college teammate and make up for last week.
''Going into this game, our plan is to get after it,'' Young said. ''And I'm excited.''
Injuries keep piling up for the Bengals.
The offensive line has been a mess. Cincinnati was without two starting tackles in last week's blowout loss to the Steelers. One starting guard has been on the injured list since Week 1. Another guard is out because he tested positive for the coronavirus. It's not clear yet who will be able to play.
''Not by choice, we've developed a lot of depth at the offensive line,'' Taylor said. ''Guys have played a lot of different positions. Now it's gotten to a point where we feel really comfortable on game day with moving guys around because they've shown us that they can play at a winning level there.''
The secondary has been nearly as beaten up. Cornerback MacKensie Alexander left last week's game with a concussion. The Bengals already were missing cornerbacks LeShaun Sims (concussion), Trae Waynes (pectoral) and Darius Phillips (groin), and their status for Sunday is yet to be determined.
Running back Joe Mixon has missed the last three games with a foot injury and is questionable once again.
Alex Smith threw for a career-best 390 yards against the Lions in his first start since breaking his right leg in November 2018. It's possible Smith at 36 is a more precise passer than before the injury, even if he has less mobility now.
''You're always trying to get better at everything,'' he said. ''I don't think that ever stops as a quarterback.''
Smith sought feedback from former Washington assistant Kevin O'Connell and backup quarterback Colt McCoy and one-time Kansas City teammate Chase Daniel along the way.
''You're a little self-conscious or you overanalyze things,'' Smith said. ''I appreciate that feedback from people and that point of view, another set of eyes.''
Five Waiver Wire Adds: Week 13
The New York Giants placed starting outside linebacker Kyle Fackrell (calf) on Injured Reserve on Tuesday with a calf injury. Fackrell will miss at least the next three games, leaving the Giants very short-handed at the position. He was tied for second on the team with three sacks and was playing close to 100 percent of the defensive snaps before suffering the injury in the Week 12 win over the Bengals. No outside linebacker on the active roster has more than one sack this year. Linebackers Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines are also on IR. Jamaal Sheard and rookies Carter Coughlin and Cam Brown could start in Week 13 against the Seahawks, making the New York defense one to avoid for fantasy managers after they were a popular streaming defense against Cincy.
The Denver Broncos activated quarterbacks Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles from the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday after all three had PCR tests come back negative on Monday. They will all be eligible to play in Week 13 against the Chiefs. So barring additional team discipline, the Broncos won't be forced to use a practice-squad wide receiver under center against their division rivals. If Lock returns as the starter for this offense, it'll be excellent news for receivers Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick and K.J. Hamler and tight end Noah Fant. Denver will likely be forced to throw often to keep up with the Chiefs high-octane offense, too, but Lock's inconsistency this season keeps him as a low-end QB2. The 24-year-old was 24-for-40 for 254 yards and two interceptions in the first meeting against KC back in Week 7.
The Atlanta Falcons placed wide receiver Olamide Zaccheaus (toe) on Injured Reserve on Tuesday after he left the Week 12 win over the Raiders with a toe injury. In a corresponding move, the team activated receiver Laquon Treadwell from the Reserve/COVID-19 list and added him to the 53-man roster. Zaccheaus popped up for a couple decent games this year, but it his production was inconsistent on a weekly basis and he was too far down the team's receiving depth chart to be a viable fantasy option in most leagues. The second-year wideout's best game came in Week 9 against the Broncos when he had four receptions for 103 yards and his first touchdown of the season. If he doesn't make it back this year, he'll finish with 20 receptions (32 targets) for 274 yards and the one touchdown. Christian Blake and Brandon Powell could see some more playing time as the No. 4 wideout with Zaccheaus out.
Baltimore Ravens running backs J.K. Dobbins and Mark Ingram II are both eligible to be activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list prior to the Week 12 game against the Steelers on Wednesday, but it's not a given that either will play. Both players have been isolated since testing positive for the virus on Nov. 22 and aren't allowed to fly on the team plane on Tuesday night. At this point, if you have Dobbins or Ingram on your roster, you've likely benched them for other running backs that already played in Week 12. Even if they both play, Gus Edwards could see the majority of backfield touches and will be the best fantasy play of the trio. Those that picked up Edwards in order to start him this week are hoping that neither Dobbins nor Ingram suit up in the tough matchup against the undefeated Steelers.
The Baltimore Ravens activated defensive tackle Brandon Williams, quarterback Trace McSorley, nickelback Tavon Young and cornerback Khalil Dorsey from the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday. They could activate more players from the list before kickoff against the Steelers on Wednesday. McSorley should be the backup to Robert Griffin III on Wednesday with Lamar Jackson testing positive for COVID-19 and being unavailable this week. The return of Williams will be good news for Baltimore's defensive line, who will again be without Pro Bowl defensive lineman Calais Campbell. The Ravens Defense is more of a gamble in DFS and season-long leagues against the undefeated Steelers, but inclement weather is expected and could make things tougher on both offenses.
Minnesota Vikings RB Dalvin Cook (ankle) is 'just kind of beat up,' according to offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Fantasy Spin: Cook briefly left the Week 12 game against the Carolina Panthers but returned to finish with 83 total yards and 22 touches. He leads the league with 1,385 yards from scrimmage and 14 total touchdowns on the season. The Vikings' schedule gets much tougher following the Week 13 home date against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but he'll remain a matchup-proof RB1 due to his heavy usage.
San Francisco 49ers DT D.J. Jones, DE Jordan Willis and practice squad TE Daniel Helm will be activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list and practice Thursday, Dec. 3, according to head coach Kyle Shanahan Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Los Angeles Chargers TE Matt Sokol and DB Jaylen Watkins were designated as protected practice squad players for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Las Vegas Raiders LB Vic Beasley, PK Dominik Eberle, DE David Irving and DE Chris Smith were designated as protected practice squad players for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Houston Texans WR Chad Hansen, DT Corey Liuget, WR Steven Mitchell Jr. and WR Damion Ratley were designated as protected practice squad players for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Jacksonville Jaguars WR Terry Godwin, DB Josh Nurse, DT Caraun Reid and PK Aldrick Rosas were designated as protected practice squad players for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Dallas Cowboys DB Deante Burton, OT Jordan Mills, DB Rashard Robinson and OT William Sweet were named protected practice squad players for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Denver Broncos RB LeVante Bellamy, TE Troy Fumagalli, DB Alijah Holder and LB Josh Watson were made protected practice squad players for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Cleveland Browns OT Michael Dunn, QB Kyle Lauletta, PK Matthew McCrane and OT Alex Taylor were designated as protected practice squad players for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Free-agent WR Joe Webb (Lions) is visiting the New York Giants Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Chicago Bears QB Tyler Bray was designated as a protected practice squad player for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Cincinnati Bengals QB Kevin Hogan, WR Stanley Morgan, RB Jacques Patrick and TE Mitchell Wilcox were named as protected practice squad players for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Buffalo Bills DE Bryan Cox Jr., C Jordan Devey, C Jonotthan Harrison and LB Darron Lee were chosen as protected practice squad players for Week 13 on Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Houston Texans WR Will Fuller and CB Bradley Roby were officially placed on the Reserve/Suspended list Tuesday, Dec. 1. The Texans also activated DT Andrew Brown from the Exempt/Commissioner Permission list.
Arizona Cardinals TE Seth DeValve, DE Michael Dogbe, RB D.J. Foster and WR A.J. Richardson were chosen as protected practice squad players for Week 13 on Tuesday, Dec. 1.