CINCINNATI — The Cincinnati Bengals aren’t letting a slow preseason dampen their outlook for rookie wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase.
Bengals coach Zac Taylor said he hopes Chase builds consistency over time after a rough stretch for the fifth overall draft pick in the 2021 draft. Chase struggled with drops and didn’t record a catch on three targets in Cincinnati’s preseason game Friday at Washington.
Two days later, Taylor said the Bengals still carry plenty of optimism about Chase’s immediate future.
“By no means are we down on Ja’Marr,” Taylor said before Sunday’s practice. “He’s just going through some of the things rookies go through in training camp, and we expect him to improve over the course of this week.”
Chase entered the NFL with high expectations despite opting out of the 2020 college football season. He won the Biletnikoff Award, given annually to the nation’s best receiver, in his final year at LSU.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, Chase had six total drops on 124 targets during LSU’s title run in 2019. He finished the season with 1,780 receiving yards and 20 touchdowns.
Even as Chase searches for success in the NFL, former LSU teammate and current Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow has issued plenty of praise for his top target.
“I’m excited about where he’s at,” Burrow said last week. “He’s going to make a lot of big plays for us. We’re going to get him the ball in space, and he’s going to score a lot of touchdowns.”
Burrow, who has yet to play in the preseason while he recovers from knee surgery in December, said he doesn’t have to say anything when Chase or any other receiver drops a pass. Chase was not made available to speak to media members at Washington.
Taylor said Chase’s struggles could stem from his acclimation to the NFL after not playing since 2019, but it was hard to know for sure.
“The expectations are so high that you expect him to be a star right out the gate,” Taylor said. “But it takes work. You gotta put in the work. That consistency comes over time.”