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Ravens Focused on Stopping Bengals Rookie Wide Receiver Ja'Marr Chase

First-year player has made huge impact.

OWINGS MILLS, Md — Ja'Marr Chase faced lofty expectations as the fifth overall pick in the 2021 draft ... and he's met every single one of them.

The Cincinnati Bengals rookie wide receiver leads the team with 553 yards receiving on 27 receptions with five touchdowns. All of the other rookie wideouts in the NFL have four touchdowns combined. 

Chase has become a favorite target for quarterback Joe Burrow.

The Ravens will make sure where Chase (No. 1) is on each offensive play. 

“Well, he’s playing like a veteran guy. I think he’s averaging 24 yards an attempt on his deep routes," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "He’s running the deep routes. They have a connection on the nine routes out there, pretty much every coverage – slants, crossers. He’s just doing a great job. He’s playing like the high pick that he is. He and, of course, Joe Burrow have a connection, I think, based on … They go back a long way. So, they have an understanding of each other, and you can see it.”

Chase played two years at LSU before opting out of the 2020 season.

He played in all 14 games and made eight starts as a true freshman at LSU in 2018, finishing with 23 receptions for 313 yards and three touchdowns.

In 2019, Chase led the FBS in receiving yards with 1,780 yards on 84 catches (21.2 avg) and 20 receiving touchdowns. He was awarded the Fred Biletnikoff Award as the best receiver in college football and was a unanimous All-American.

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"He’s really made the NFL look pretty easy," Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey said. "I know it’s, of course, a lot better players, but there really hasn’t been many speed bumps in the road. It seems like being that Joe [Burrow] and him played in college together, it’s not really a new relationship. 

"So, it seems like they’re like a fifth-year tandem [and] that they’ve been doing it for a while. That’s kind of how easy it’s looked on film.”

The Bengals raised some eyebrows when they selected him with the fifth overall pick. Many draft analysts expected them to take an offensive lineman to protect Burrow. 

However, he made them look smart. Chase has two drops on 25 catchable targets, according to Pro Football Focus. He can also stretch the field.

The Bengals top three wide receivers — Chase, Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins — could create some matchup challenges for the Ravens. 

“They look really good. Chase has added a lot of juice to their offense," Humphrey said. "All the receivers, it seems to me, they’ve just stepped [it] up a notch and put a lot of weight on their shoulders to run [that] offense. So, they’re definitely a new duo there, but [they’re] kind of almost like a new, just fully revamped offense.”