The Bengals made receiver Ja'Marr Chase the fifth overall pick in the 2021 draft, passing on potential cornerstone tackle Penei Sewell. Coupled with his LSU reunion with quarterback Joe Burrow, the expectations for Chase are high.
Maybe too high.
Paul Dehner, Jr. of TheAthletic.com shares his observations of Chase, based on the early phase of training-camp practice.
“He has endured a string of drops, on short and long passes, with another coming Sunday,” Dehner writes. “He has not shown as much separation as you’d hope, and the contested balls haven’t gone his way much, either. This is absolutely not to say he won’t start picking that up with more reps over the next month.”
Dehner makes clear that he’s not sounding the alarm. He’s simply sharing his observations. And everything can change as Chase gets more comfortable. He could end up being everything that the franchise expected him to be.
The point is that he’s dealing with growing pains that most rookies endure. To the extent that anyone thought Chase would walk through the door with a talent level that made him immune to that, it’s apparently not the case.
Chase gets his first chance to show what he can do against an opponent on Saturday night, when the Bengals head to Tampa Bay for the preseason opener.