Chargers’ Joey Bosa gets a rush thinking about facing Bengals rookie QB Joe Burrow

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback  Joe Burrow throws during a training camp practice.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9), the top pick in the NFL draft last April, will make his pro debut Sunday in a home game against the Chargers.
(Aaron Doster / Associated Press)

Paid to sack quarterbacks, Joey Bosa is well aware that the quarterback he’ll be attempting to sack Sunday never has appeared in an NFL game.

“A rookie comes with inexperience,” the Chargers defensive end said. “He definitely hasn’t had a line like ours come at him yet.”

Joe Burrow has had Bosa come at him, however. Plenty of times actually.

The two were teammates at Ohio State in 2015, Bosa’s final college season and Burrow’s first.


Burrow, playing behind former Charger Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett, ran the scout team that year for the Buckeyes, who would finish 12-1 and rank fourth in the country.

On Sunday, Burrow will make his NFL debut for Cincinnati against Bosa and the Chargers. It will be a rematch of those Ohio State practices from five years ago, about 100 miles from where those practices took place in Columbus.

Austin Ekeler is now the Chargers’ featured running back. He’s got several young backs and a running quarterback in Tyrod Taylor as support.

“He’s definitely going to come out throwing,” Bosa predicted of his former teammate. “They’re going to want to attack us through the air and show what they’re all about now.”

Burrow was the No. 1 overall pick in April after a record-setting, championship-winning year at Louisiana State. He transferred from Ohio State for his final two college seasons.

Bosa said his younger brother, Nick, is good friends with Burrow. Nick also played at Ohio State and now is a San Francisco 49er. Joey also said he watched a lot of Burrow last season as the quarterback was carving up college football with more than 5,600 yards passing and 60 touchdowns.

“If he’s going to be able to do that in the NFL, then he’s going to be a serious weapon,” Bosa said. “It won’t happen this first week, but I think he’s going to have a good career.”

Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa prepares for the next play during a training camp practice.
As a pass rusher, Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa (97) likes the idea of facing a rookie quarterback in the season opener.
(Associated Press)

LSU finished 15-0, defeating Clemson in the title game. In the semifinals, Burrow and the Tigers beat an Oklahoma team that featured Chargers rookie linebacker Kenneth Murray Jr.

Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley coached with Burrow’s father, Jimmy, at North Dakota State in 2003-04. The two remain friends. Bradley said he can recall a young Joe Burrow scurrying about the stadium and practice field in Fargo during those days.

The Chargers’ status as a playoff contender complicated decisions on breaking in rookie QB Justin Herbert. The coronavirus-altered calendar added other variables.

At the time, there was no way to foresee Burrow going on to win a Heisman Trophy and a national championship, and becoming the NFL’s top pick.

But Bradley said he knew, in talking with Jimmy and others in recent years, that Joe had talent.

“You thought if he just got an opportunity good things would happen,” Bradley said. “Obviously, what took place [last season]. I don’t think anybody pictured that. But it also doesn’t surprise me, just knowing him.”

Off line

During training camp, Anthony Lynn often talked about his desire to just get the offensive line to the start of the season healthy. Unfortunately for the Chargers coach, that didn’t happen.

Center Mike Pouncey won’t play Sunday because of a hip injury that has prevented him from practicing for weeks.

Right tackle Bryan Bulaga and right guard Trai Turner, both added in the offseason to bolster a group that struggled in 2019, are questionable because of injuries suffered in recent days. Bulaga (hamstring) was limited in practice Friday, and Turner (knee) did not participate.

The hip issue with Pouncey is the most concerning. He has dealt with problems in both hips during his career and, in 2017, told reporters that doctors had informed him he’ll need replacement surgery in the next “five to 10 years.” Pouncey, 31 and in his 10th season, was with Miami at the time. He signed as a free agent with the Chargers in March of 2018.

“His hip is just too sore to play right now,” Lynn said. “We knew this when we brought Mike here. Mike’s toughed it out. But this is not the time to do it. This is the time to get Mike as healthy as we can.”

The Chargers locked up defensive end Joey Bosa, added sturdy reinforcements and returned reliable players to a defense looking for more turnovers and sacks in 2020.

Asked specifically if he was worried about Pouncey’s status moving forward, Lynn said only, “It’s something that he’s always dealt with. It’s always been there.”

Against the Bengals, Dan Feeney will move from left guard to center to replace Pouncey and Forrest Lamp will start in Feeney’s normal spot.

Also questionable for Sunday are wide receiver Mike Williams (shoulder) and tight end Virgil Green (quadriceps). It appears that Green will play, and the Chargers are hopeful Williams will be ready, as well.