Cincinnati Bengals' Joe Burrow still 'very optimistic' he'll play in 2021 opener after knee surgery

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow said he remains on track for the start of the 2021 season.

In an interview with "The Cris Collinsworth Podcast featuring Richard Sherman," Burrow said he is "ahead of schedule" following reconstructive knee surgery to repair injuries that ended his rookie season. He said he should be ready for the team's season opener.

"I'm expecting to be there on the first snap of 2021," Burrow said on the podcast, which was released on Tuesday.

Burrow's comments are believed to be his first public statements since January, one month after the surgery to repair the ACL and MCL ligaments in his left knee. Burrow suffered the injury in a loss to Washington on Nov. 22.

The former LSU standout and Heisman Trophy winner said he's roughly halfway through the recovery process and is "feeling really good" as he looks to make his return.

"I'm very optimistic about where I'm at and also where the team's at," Burrow said. "Rehab is going very, very well. Lifting is going very, very well. I'm in great shape. Legs feel good. Knee feels good."

Before the injury, Burrow showed why the Bengals drafted him with the No. 1 pick last year. Burrow started 10 games and completed 65.3% of his passes for 2,688 yards, 13 touchdowns and five interceptions.

He said there are still opportunities to delay his return timetable but that the current progress is a good sign.

"It's about a nine-month recovery process," Burrow said on the podcast. "So there's still a long way to go. There's still opportunities for setbacks. But the way I'm feeling right now, I'm very optimistic that I'll be ready Game 1."