Bengals’ Taylor not concerned about absences of Tee Higgins, Ja’Marr Chase

CINCINNATI — The absence of two star receivers was not a concern for Cincinnati Bengals coach Zac Taylor on Tuesday.

After the team’s first OTA practice, Taylor downplayed the fact that Tee Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase were not present for drills. Higgins has not yet signed the franchise tag that the Bengals placed on him in February. Chase also has not yet participated in the team’s offseason program. He is eligible for a new contract after making the Pro Bowl in each of his first three seasons.

Taylor emphasized the voluntary nature of the team’s workouts and said the absences of Higgins and Chase should not slow the development of the offense.

“(They) are still working hard elsewhere and will return at the right time,” Taylor said. “And the good thing is that we know those guys, we know what it’s about and that they will 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 main additions during free agency. Taylor also downplayed those absences in learning Cincinnati’s playbook.

“They have the information, so I know they’re aware of it,” Taylor said. “And when they get here and can get those reps, I know those two guys are veterans and they’ll be in a very good situation.”

Cincinnati looks to bounce back from a disappointing season. After winning the AFC North in 2021 and 2022 and going deep in the playoffs in both years, including a loss in Super Bowl LVI, Cincinnati missed the playoffs in 2023 after quarterback Joe Burrow suffered a right knee injury. doll that ended the season.

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 Burrow’s look.

“It was accurate,” Taylor said. “He’s been on time (with the ball). He’s throwing with great speed and power.”

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