Best of Friday at NFL training camps: Bengals’ Joe Burrow aces scrimmage; NFL reacts to Ron Rivera’s cancer diagnosis

The Cincinnati Bengals conducted their first scrimmage of the preseason on Friday and quarterback Joe Burrow didn’t take long to impress.

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft was 9-of-10 passing for 101 yards and two touchdowns in his first two drives and finished 13-of-19. His favorite receiver? Auden Tate, who tallied six catches for 67 yards and two scores in the two opening drives.

Meanwhile, Washington coach Ron Rivera revealed on Thursday night that he had been diagnosed with cancer. The NFL world reacted on Friday with players and coaches weighing in.

Here’s what else you need to know from camps across the league:

Jump to the best of the day:
Photos | Videos | Quotes

Top news of the day

Bengals coach Zac Taylor: Joe Burrow showed control of offense
The Bengals conducted their first scrimmage of the preseason and rookie quarterback Joe Burrow showed control of the offense, coach Zac Taylor said Friday. During his first two drives, Burrow had only one incompletion and threw a couple of touchdowns as he continued the process of getting ready for the season opener against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sept. 13.

Washington’s Ron Rivera says he has cancer, plans to continue coaching
Rivera was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma located in a lymph node, the team said in a statement. Rivera said the cancer is in the early stages and is considered “very treatable and curable.”


Reaction from NFL world to Ron Rivera’s cancer diagnosis

Best videos

Best photos

Quotes of the day

“He works his tail off. He’s extremely dynamic, and he has a charming personality.”

Patriots’ Julian Edelman on Cam Newton

“He really showed that acceleration and burst. It was really a third or fourth gear. How many gears are there on a sports car? Whatever it was, he was in it.” Ravens coach John Harbaugh on Marquise Brown after the wide receiver hauled in a 60-yard TD

“If you’re not trying to win the Super Bowl, I don’t know what you’re even doing in this business.” Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy on Super Bowl-or-bust expectations

What our NFL Nation reporters saw Friday

The Raiders tried out their new $1.9 billion home on Friday with a gameday-simulated padded practice on 65,000-seat Allegiant Stadium’s grass field. Coaches and players alike were impressed with the new digs. “This place is a one-of-a-kind joint,” said Raiders coach Jon Gruden. “We’ve just got to keep pounding this virus into the turf and open these doors so people can enjoy it like we did today. It’s a spectacular out-of-sight place … the bright lights, the natural grass in a domed stadium, the spectacular locker room, it’s a state-of-the-art facility. It’s got everything you can imagine and I can’t wait to share it with our fans…it’s a lot different than Alameda. No disrespect to the old stadium.” — Paul Gutierrez

It was the players’ day off on Friday, but it didn’t surprise Packers outside linebackers coach Mike Smith that he got a text at 12:30 a.m. from Rashan Gary. Last year’s first-round pick asked for three things he could work on. Gary already had come back in what Smith called “ridiculous shape,” but he needs to ramp up his production in Year 2. Doing so would allow Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith to reduce their rep count — each played nearly 1,000 defensive snaps last season — and keep them fresh for the long haul. “You can tell he’s worked on some things that we talked to him about before we left — his get-off, his pad level,” defensive coordinator Mike Pettine said. “He’s taken that to heart and has made some strides.” — Rob Demovsky

The pandemic has made it difficult for teams to create team-bonding exercises or bring in guest speakers, but new Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy held a game of “Jeopardy! “with his squad on Tuesday. “It was a lot of fun,” McCarthy said. “Our players really enjoyed it.” The players were divided into three groups: rookies, second- and third-year players, and veterans. The questions ranged from music videos to animals, other athletes and players on the team. The veterans apparently won, but running back Tony Pollard, in his second year, thought it was controversial. “It was a bit unfair the way the teams were lined up,” Pollard said. “You know the rookies, they didn’t know as much so they got all the [hard] questions from the vets so the vets just took their points. The two-three-year guys really should’ve won, but it is what it is.” — Todd Archer

Washington had a scheduled day off, which allowed the players to absorb the news of coach Ron Rivera having a form of skin cancer. Rivera said doctors are optimistic because they caught it early and consider it treatable. But if he has to miss time, one thing that helps him is that he wasn’t running any particular side of the ball. He was overseeing the operation, trusting his coordinators (Jack Del Rio on defense; Scott Turner on offense; Nate Kaczor on special teams). If Rivera, 58, has to step away, having those coordinators should keep the situation normal for players. He’s the main voice they hear for the team, but in position and group meetings the voices they hear wouldn’t have to change. — John Keim

The defense finally got to Matthew Stafford and the Lions’ offense on Friday — intercepting Detroit’s starting quarterback twice. One came from first-round pick Jeff Okudah, who was working with the first team for the first time with veteran Desmond Trufant sitting out team drills. The other came on a beautiful read from fellow cornerback Amani Oruwariye, who has put together a strong first week. The defensive front also got enough pressure to force what likely would have been one or two sacks on Stafford in team periods. It’s a step the Lions needed to see from their defense after a week when the offense appeared to be quite far ahead. — Michael Rothstein

Quarterback Jameis Winston has yet to find a groove during the Saints’ full-team drills this week. He saw a handful of passes broken up Friday before throwing an interception to defensive back P.J. Williams (Williams’ second pick of the week). However, Winston did follow that up immediately with a long completion to wide receiver Bennie Fowler. And Saints coach Sean Payton did note again after Friday’s practice that he has been encouraged by Winston’s progress and that he is picking things up well. — Mike Triplett

Rookie tight end Albert Okwuegbunam, who played three seasons at Missouri with Broncos quarterback Drew Lock, might still be a work in progress with some of his routes, but he has shown early impact in red zone drills. Both Thursday and Friday he made scoring plays against Denver’s starting defense. He’s also done some of that work this week with a splint on the thumb he injured early in camp. And Broncos coach Vic Fangio has noticed. “He’s been playing with a splint on his thumb here the last couple days that he’s been doing very well with,” Fangio said. “You can’t even tell so that’s good. Always good to see he’s not taking the easy way out.” — Jeff Legwold

Jarrett Stidham didn’t take part in 11-on-11 team drills after tests were negative on his leg, which meant that fellow Patriots quarterbacks Cam Newton and Brian Hoyer split the reps in a slow-paced practice. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said he expects Stidham back to full work on Sunday. All eyes are on the signal-callers in New England, and the path seems to be clearing through five practices for Newton to seize the top spot. — Mike Reiss

Tempers flared toward the end of Ravens practice between Earl Thomas and Chuck Clark. The safeties apparently got into an argument over a blown coverage on the sideline. Thomas put up his fists to fight, and both had to be restrained by teammates and coaches. “It just lasted longer than it needed to,” coach John Harbaugh said. “You’re going to have these things in training camp. But I don’t like them when they extend like that and eat into our reps. We need to keep our eye on the prize, which is preparing for the [season-opening opponent] Browns.” — Jamison Hensley

With only nine healthy wide receivers in camp, the Jets are holding tryouts. They’re working out veterans Donte Moncrief and Kevin White, the seventh overall pick in 2015. They’ve already added one vet, Chris Hogan, who has participated in two practices. Injuries to rookie Denzel Mims (hamstring) and Vyncint Smith (core-muscle surgery) prompted them to look outside the organization. Smith could be sidelined two months; Mims is week-to-week.— Rich Cimini

No preseason? No problem. The Giants instead held the first of two intrasquad scrimmages on Friday. It allowed new coach Joe Judge to test all his systems, handling of in-game personnel and playcalling in a live setting. It all seemed to run fairly smoothly, aside from a delay of game or two. Quarterback Daniel Jones finished started slowly but finished strong. He went 16-of-27 passing with two touchdowns and an interception. His final throw allowed the offense to leave on a positive note when he hit David Sills deep down the field for a touchdown. All in all, a successful day for the Giants. — Jordan Raanan

New 49ers left tackle Trent Williams figured to have a lot of rust to knock off after not playing last season. But it apparently didn’t take long for him to do it. Williams has easily been one of the most dominant players on the field nearly a week into camp, and regularly stonewalls reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year Nick Bosa in one-on-one pass-rush drills and in team drills. “I obviously have never played him before so I don’t know exactly how he was before, but it definitely seems like he’s feeling great and playing really well,” Bosa said. “I’m definitely confident in [quarterback] Jimmy [Garoppolo]‘s left side.” That confidence has clearly spread through the team. Williams was again at his best in Friday’s practice and instead of rust, it seems he has fresh legs that will have him in line for a massive contract after the season as he enters the final season of his current deal. — Nick Wagoner

The Browns players got a much-needed day off Friday after an injury-riddled first week of camp. Cleveland currently has six starters who have either been out or limited so far in camp, not including punter Jamie Gillan (illness). The good news is that defensive end Myles Garrett finally dressed on Thursday, and running back Nick Chubb, who had to enter concussion protocol after the first day in pads, appears to be close behind him, with position coach Stump Mitchell noting that it’s “just a matter of time” before Chubb, who is taking part in meetings, is back on the field, too. — Jake Trotter

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