One of the NFL’s oldest records is the most receiving yards in a rookie season. Ja'Marr Chase could break that record on Sunday — if he plays.
The Bengals have already confirmed that starting quarterback Joe Burrow will sit out on Sunday, as the Bengals have clinched the AFC North and are getting ready for the playoffs. Chase, however, could “potentially” play, according to head coach Zac Taylor.
It’s unclear how hard Taylor would be willing to try to get Chase that rookie receiving record of 1,473 yards, which was set by Bill Groman of the Houston Oilers in 1960. Groman set that record while playing in the first season of the American Football League, but the NFL has accepted all AFL records as official NFL records since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger.
Chase has 1,429 receiving yards this season, so he needs just 45 receiving yards on Sunday against the Browns to break Groman’s record. Chase has gained more than 45 yards in 12 of his 16 games this season, so he has a good chance of breaking the record. But breaking the record will be harder with Brandon Allen, rather than Burrow, passing him the ball. And harder still if Taylor doesn’t want to give Chase too big a workload on Sunday to keep him fresh for the playoffs.
If you’ve never heard of Groman despite his rookie record, that’s because he suffered a serious knee injury in his second season and was never the same player again. Every promising young player is one play away from a potentially career-altering injury, which is why Taylor may decide not to give Chase a chance to break that record.