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Josh Allen's connection with Joe Burrow, Mitch Morse's return and Bills injury updates 

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The Buffalo Bills were back at One Bills Drive on Thursday for practice as they get ready for Monday night's clash with the Bengals.

Here are three main takeaways from the day.

Allen's connection with Cincy's Joe Burrow and a college teammate

It's only fitting that the first time QB's Josh Allen and Joe Burrow will face off against one another is in one of the most historic Monday Night Football matchups to date. And no, that's not hyperbolic to say.

The Bills and Bengals have combined for 23 wins which will tie for the most between two teams meeting on MNF since the NFL started playing on Mondays in 1970. Further, Allen and Burrow have combined for 66 touchdown passes this season, the most all-time between two opposing QBs entering a MNF matchup.

And if that wasn't enough, AFC seeding is on the line as well, with the Bills still looking to lock up homefield advantage.

"I get there's a lot of implications for that. That's in the back of our mind," Allen said of the game's magnitude. "Trying to control what we can control."

Allen and Burrow have more in common than what immediately meets the eye as both signal callers have spent recent offseasons working with private quarterback coach and former NFL QB Jordan Palmer.

Palmer, 38, is the founder of QB Summit, a coaching and consulting program for quarterbacks based out of Orange County, California. A 2021 story by The Athletic's Bruce Feldman detailed Palmer's training sessions with both Allen and Burrow and how each have made tweaks to their mechanics to elevate their game.

"He trained with Jordan. The dude's all ball. He loves football," Allen said of his Monday night counterpart. "We've had some interactions over the last couple years, some conversations. I've got the utmost respect for him."

"It's been super impressive to watch and to see his whole story, too. Going to Ohio State, transferring out, spending 2 years at LSU and arguably having one of the greatest seasons ever in college history. He's got a heckuva story."

Another thread weaving Burrow and Allen together? Burrow's passing game coordinator at LSU during the year he threw for 5,671 yards and 60 TDs en route to a national championship was none other than current Buffalo Bills QB coach Joe Brady. 

It's not often Allen is also going up against a former Wyoming teammate from his college days, but that will be the case this week when he sees Bengals linebacker Logan Wilson staring him down in the pocket. 

"We call him the Governor. He's in my phone as LJ Wilson the Governor," Allen laughed. "He can recognize routes, he flies around, he makes plays. Off the field he's one of the best dudes you'll ever meet."

Wilson was a third-round selection by Cincinnati in the 2020 NFL Draft and has developed into one of the more productive young players on the Bengals defense. He has 67 tackles on the season and has 2.5 sacks over his last three games. 

Allen shared that it's always great to see his college teammates succeed at the next level and Wyoming's tight-knit locker room makes those meetings in the NFL that much more special.

"Looking forward to that. It's always fun. I try to jersey swap with all my teammates in college. Hopefully he's got one for me," Allen said.

Mitch Morse itching to get back on the field

Ahead of Thursday's practice, head coach Sean McDermott announced that center Mitch Morse has been cleared from concussion protocol. Morse, who returned to practice as a full participant, suffered the concussion in Week 15 against the Miami Dolphins and was ruled out of the team's Christmas Eve game against the Chicago Bears.

"Never take those lightly and always defer to that concussion protocol because it is — those are serious and we take those seriously," McDermott said. "So, I'm glad that he was able to make it back, and we'll see where he goes this week."

Morse said that right when the play that ruled him out of the remainder of the Dolphins game happened, he knew that he was concussed. But having dealt with this injury before in his NFL career, he leaned on his past experiences to understand what the process would look like this time around.

"We handled it the right way," Morse said. "They were very precautious with me, I was very honest with them. Had some conversations with people that I cared about, and we just marched on. Felt very comfortable, felt very fortunate to be where I'm at, and felt very happy to be back out there and get to continue to compete with the guys."

The center had two good years of mitigating everything he could. But having suffered one before, he said it was one of those things that was unavoidable.

"It's part of my story and my football story," Morse said. "Feeling healthy. They're not going to put me out there unless I am. Did everything I had to do, and we're back out there and had a lot of fun out there today and really enjoyed the day."

Morse was nearing the end of his projected recovery process at home in Buffalo when his team clinched the AFC east title in Chicago. While it was tough to not be celebrating with his team in the moment, Morse knew his moment was at home recovering so he could safely return to the field with his teammates.

And Morse's teammates, especially those who play on the same side of the ball as him, were just as eager to be reunited with their center whenever that time came.

"Mitch is our anchor, like, that's our center," OL Dion Dawkins said. "So, anytime that we can have Mitch back in the groove, it's a good thing. And this is a long season, bodies take bangs, knicks and all types of things, but the fact that Mitch is healthy and I'm happy for it."

After his first practice back, Morse said that he's feeling good and QB Josh Allen said it was back to business as usual with his center on the field again.

"I've got a lot of trust, a lot of faith in him. So comfortable with him," Allen said. "I know it sounds weird but even just taking snaps with him. We've been taking snaps the last 3 1-2 four years so it's extremely comfortable. Obviously, the player that he is and the mind that he is as well, it helps out our offense a lot."

And when asked if he is planning to play on Monday night against the Cincinnati Bengals, Morse responded with, "Yeah, absolutely."

Injury update

In addition to Morse's return, the team also opened the 21-day practice window for rookie CB Christian Benford who has been on IR with an oblique injury. 

Two key players were absent from practice as Jordan Poyer (knee) and Stefon Diggs (illness) did not participate. 

TE Dawson Knox was in a red non-contact jersey and was listed as limited in practice due to a hip injury.

The Bills participated in their first practice of the week as the team gets ready to travel to Cincinnati to face the Bengals on Monday Night Football.

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