Cincinnati Bengals rookie Ja’Marr Chase will be called upon to make an impact immediately when he steps onto the field this season as a rookie.
The Bengals took Chase in the first round of the 2021 draft after he sat out of LSU’s season in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. He was the No. 5 pick after putting up 84 catches, 1,780 receiving yards and 20 touchdowns in 2019 when he helped the Tigers and Joe Burrow win the national championship.
He should fit in the Bengals offense seamlessly as he is reunited with Burrow as Bengals teammates. But his struggles in the preseason have been noted and on Wednesday he addressed those issues and highlighted the key difference between the pro and college game for him.
“The ball is different because it is bigger,” Chase said, via the team’s website. “It doesn’t have the white stripes on the side so you can’t see the ball coming from the tip point so you actually have to look for the strings on the ball at the top, which is hard to see because whole ball is brown and you have the six strings that are white. But for the most part, just have to get used to it and find out what I am comfortable with catching.”
May 14, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase (1) catches a pass during NFL minicamp.
May 14, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase (1) catches a pass during NFL minicamp. (Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports)
“I don’t want to blame it on me sitting on my butt the whole year, but it probably had something to do with it, of course. There’s a bigger ball adjustment, so I don’t want to make excuses but I’ve just got to be a pro and make the catch.”
Chase said some of the drops come from him “not looking the ball in.”
“By looking the ball in I’m talking about high-pointing it and watching it and as soon as it hit you looking away. Me running before the catch. Me doing stuff like that and dropping it. I did that a couple times,” he said.
Chase’s first preseason games in August was his first live football competitions since winning the national title with Burrow since Jan. 13, 2020. There’s bound to be some rust getting back on the field, which is why preseason is a good time to shake some of that off.
The Bengals will hope to get back on track with a Week 1 win. The team is set to play the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. For Burrow and Chase, it will be a game against another former LSU star – Justin Jefferson.