Bengals’ first-round pick chasing consistency

Ja’Marr Chase flashes playmaking ability, deals with drops.

CINCINNATI -- Ja’Marr Chase said he was frustrated when he first started with the Cincinnati Bengals and kept dropping easy passes. Now, he’s realizing the need for patience and not letting mistakes pile up or impact his next play.

The No. 5 overall draft pick out of LSU didn’t drop many passes in his breakout sophomore season with the Tigers in 2019 but he’s been a mixed bag in training camp – showing flashes of great separation and playmaking skills while other times letting the ball slip through his hands.

Chase said Wednesday he’s learning from his mistakes and understanding he’s still making an adjustment to the NFL.

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“Worry about the next play, you can’t worry about that,” Chase said when asked about how he can correct the drops. “It’s practice, first of all. That’s where you want to drop them, if anything, but you’ve got to get it out of the way, let it go through and onto the next play.”

There’s a need for accountability, too, though. That’s why Chase can be seen doing pushups after he drops a pass. He said the wide receivers mandated that any dropped pass be punished with 10 pushups and he was on board with that idea.

Chase also stays after practice each day, working on the JUGS football throwing machine to continue working on his catching.

“I strive to get better every day I come onto the field,” Chase said. “It’s just executing every day. That’s the thing. You don’t want to mess up twice. That’s something nobody out there wants to do. I’m just out there trying to compete with the guys and make the team better.”

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While much has been made about the inconsistency displayed so far, his teammates have seen enough dazzling catches from him to know what type of positive impact he can make for the Bengals offense.

Fourth-year receiver Auden Tate said Chase has remained calm through the ups and downs and fits well with the receiver corps.

“I wouldn’t say he’s struggling at all,” Tate said Wednesday. “He’s been great since he’s been here. I just think it’s an adjustment to the NFL, and, obviously a year being out. I think he’s been picking up the playbook very well, he’s been picking up his game. There’s nothing to worry about.”

Chase isn’t concerned, either. He remains confident the consistency will come.

Credit: Aaron Doster

Credit: Aaron Doster

After winning the national championship with current Bengals teammate Joe Burrow and LSU in 2019, Chase sat out his junior season and then went straight to the draft. His sophomore season he finished with 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns on 84 receptions but now he’s trying to get back into the routine of team football again while adjusting to a higher level of competition in the NFL.

“I would say the only difficult thing was my quickness,” Chase said. “Not as in quickness like with athletic ability, but mind quickness, reaction time quickness. That’s what it’s all about. Me sitting out that whole year definitely showed when I got back out here. I thought everything was going to be fine for me and then that was one thing of the game phase I was having trouble with.”

Chase said he’s feeling better every day and making adjustments faster now than he was at the start of camp.

His first big test will be Saturday when the Bengals play their first preseason game at defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay. That will be his first competition against an opposing team since Jan. 13, 2020.

“I’ll say (preseason games) will be pretty big, because I know a lot of people want to see me play,” Chase said. “I’ve been out for a whole year and they want to see what I’ve been doing this whole time. Just for me to come out and make a mark on myself and prove to everyone else who I am.”

Stepping onto the field Saturday for his unofficial NFL debut will be something special, he said, noting it will finally feel like he really achieved his childhood dream.

“It’s just a blessing to be here, of course, but I am pretty much getting excited,” Chase said. “I’m just taking it day by day right now, it’s still just a big process for me going into the game. I still have to get better on some of my plays. I’m just trying to progress and get better every day.”


Bengals at Buccaneers, 7:30 p.m., Ch. 12 (Cincinnati), Ch. 22 (Dayton); 700, 1530, 102.7, 104.7

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