Ja'Marr Chase is undoubtedly happy to leave the 2021 preseason in the dust. The No. 5 overall pick in this year's draft, Chase dropped several passes during the preseason. His issues continued on Monday, as Chase failed to pull down an intermediate pass from Joe Burrow during a drill involving just the two players.
Chase took questions regarding his drops head-on during his Monday media session. And while he said that opting out of the 2020 college season as well as differences between college and pro footballs may be contributors, Chase thinks the main issue has been a lack of executing basic football fundamentals.
"Lack of focus," Chase said while adding that he also needs to focus more on "looking the ball in," via Jay Morrison of The Athletic. "I have to look the ball all the way in. Lack of concentration. Just watching the ball into my hands, there was a lack of, and it showed."
Chase has been working towards fixing the issue. He said that he catches roughly 40 tennis balls a day in order to improve his hand-eye coordination. Chase estimates that he has already caught about 5,000 tennis ball passes during practice.
Bengals coach Zac Taylor and the rest of his offensive coaching staff has been unwavering in their support of Chase, who caught 20 passes from Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow during their final season together at LSU. Bengals offensive line coach and former 49ers lineman Frank Pollack recently pointed to Jerry Rice as another heralded receiver who struggled to catch the ball as a rookie before going on to have a Hall of Fame career. Chase has also received public support from teammates that includes fellow receiver Tyler Boyd. Boyd overcame early career struggles before topping 1,000 receiving yards in both 2018 and in 2019.
"We know and he knows what type of guy he is," Boyd said late last month, via The Athletic's Paul Dehner Jr. "It's more so the mental side. I think he'll get over that, he'll start making more plays because we'll continue to go to him. And he knows myself and Tee (Higgins), Joe and everybody else, 'We got your back, bro.'
"Like I said, it's not easy, especially being out in this league. But everything else he's doing, he's done right. He knows what to do, he knows how to run his routes, he's winning, it's just he's overthinking at the catch point."
With his tumultuous preseason behind him, Chase is looking to add value to a Bengals offense that has high hopes with the return of Burrow, the addition of Chase and fellow rookie Jackson Carman, and the free agent signing of longtime Vikings tackle Riley Reiff, who will face his former team for the first time on Sunday.
"That's my objective to do, go out there and make as many plays as possible," Chase said. "Doesn't matter if Joe throws a bad ball, I'm going to make him look good. Just me going out there and being accountable for myself and being accountable for my teammates."
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