CINCINNATI — The absence of two star receivers wasn’t a concern for Bengals coach Zac Taylor on Tuesday.

Following the team’s first OTA practice, Taylor downplayed Tee Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase not being present for drills. Higgins has yet to sign the franchise tag the Bengals placed on him in February. Chase has yet to participate in the team’s offseason program as well. He is eligible for a new contract after reaching the Pro Bowl in each of his first three seasons.

Taylor stressed the voluntary nature of the team’s workouts and said the absences of Higgins and Chase shouldn’t set back the development of the offense.

“[They] are still working hard elsewhere, and they’ll be back at the right times,” Taylor said. “And the beauty is we know those guys, we know what they’re about and that they’ll be ready and focused when it’s time to come back.”

Other notable absences included defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins and projected starting right tackle Trent Brown. Both players were part of the team’s major additions during free agency. Taylor also downplayed those absences when it came to learning Cincinnati’s playbook.

“They have the information, so I know that they’re staying on top of it,” Taylor said. “And when they get here and are able to get those reps, I know that those two guys are vets and they’ll be in a real good spot.”

Cincinnati is seeking to bounce back from a disappointing season. After winning the AFC North in 2021 and 2022 and making deep playoff runs in both years, including a loss in Super Bowl LVI, Cincinnati missed the playoffs in 2023 after quarterback Joe Burrow suffered a season-ending wrist injury.

Burrow has participated in the team’s offseason program. On Tuesday, he had veteran Trenton Irwin, rookie Jermaine Burton and second-year players Andrei Iosivas and Charlie Jones as available targets.

Taylor said he likes how Burrow has looked.

“He’s been accurate,” Taylor said. “He’s been on time [with the ball]. He’s throwing with great velocity and power.”

The Bengals will conduct OTAs through Thursday and again June 3-6. The team’s offseason program will conclude with mandatory minicamp June 11-13.


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