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Bengals stick to solid routine, look to avoid grim Super Bowl statistic


LOS ANGELES — When Joe Burrow and Matthew Stafford take the field on Sunday it will mark only the second time in Super Bowl history that both starting quarterbacks began their careers as the No. 1 overall draft pick. The first time was during the Super Bowl 50 matchup between the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos. During that matchup, the younger signal caller, Cam Newton was bested by his more senior opponent Peyton Manning as the Broncos secured the 24-10 win. Critics believe that history will repeat itself this week as the Bengals are listed as a 3.5-point underdog. With both defenses ranked outside the top-10 this game will be decided by the quarterback who can best manage the game and protect the football.


In addition to their extensive focus on special teams, protecting the football in all phases was likely a big focus for the Cincinnati Bengals during the team periods of their final major workout before Super Bowl LVI. The team practiced at Drake Stadium on the campus of UCLA, the team opened with its usual stretching, followed by a special teams period, individual work, team periods, kickoff and field-goal work, and another team period to end the day's session.


“It’s a big workday for us and the guys handled it really well,” Coach Zac Taylor said. “The guys have done a great job hydrating, and we’ll be prepared for Sunday.”


For the first time since suffering a knee injury in the AFC Championship against the Kansas City Chiefs, tight end C.J. Uzomah practiced, albeit on a limited basis. He participated in individual work and observed team periods.


“He’s been good,” Taylor said. “He’s progressing nicely.”


Kicker Evan McPherson got more work during the kickoff and field-goal periods.


At this point, after a week of practice inside the University of Cincinnati’s indoor practice facility and now two full days of practice and walk-throughs here in L.A., the Bengals have installed the game plan and completed the bulk of their on-field prep for Sunday. The last bit of refinement will come today. Yesterday, Taylor talked about about how much of the day would go toward fine tuning what they've installed. Saturday, the Bengals will hold a final walk-through before heading to SoFi Stadium for team photos.


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