CINCINNATI — Bengals rookie wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase has had drop issues all offseason.
It seemed like minor issue during OTA's, but it has continued throughout training camp. And while it has consistently been a topic of conversation in practice, those issues were on display in front of a national audience on Friday night.
Chase dropped three passes—all on third down. He clearly wasn't in sync with backup quarterback Brandon Allen, but Zac Taylor isn't making excuses for the star rookie.
“We just expect our receivers to catch the ball, it's as simple as that," Taylor said after the game. "I don’t attribute it to any rhythm, the ball's coming at you, catch it and that’s what we need to accomplish.”
Taylor's tone was a bit different than what he said on Wednesday when we asked him about Chase's drop issues.
“I’m not concerned about that [drops]," Taylor said. "We want him to catch the football, there’s no question about that, but again, we just want to see progress everyday in all areas and I have seen him make progress as a receiver for what we’re looking for. Again, we don’t wanna drop the football, but he’s starting to make more plays for us and we’re heading in the right direction there.”
Chase only had five drops in his final season at LSU, a number that he almost matched on Friday night. After a year off, it's taken him some time to get back into the swing of football life, while also adjusting to the NFL game.
The good news is no one seems to work harder than Chase. He shows up to practice early and stays late. He catches balls from the Jugs machine and works on contested catches downfield.
It's not time to panic, but it is time to fix the problem. Chase knows it and the Bengals know it.
Cincinnati is back at practice on Sunday. That'll be his first chance to redeem himself.
Friday night could be the start of a major issue or it could be the fuel that helped get Chase ready for the start of what ends up being a successful NFL career.
The Bengals' final preseason game in Aug. 29 against Miami at Paul Brown Stadium. The regular season starts on Sept. 12 against the Vikings.
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