NOVEMBER 20: Several reports from earlier this week suggested that the goal of a Week 12 return may be overly optimistic. First, ESPN’s Field Yates tweeted that Chase had not yet returned to practice, and then Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported that Chase was recently seen on crutches. Florio was clear that the crutches were used as a precautionary measure and were not necessary, but it still created the belief that Chase’s return to action would be delayed.
However, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported on Sunday that Chase is off crutches and is improving. He will have a chance to practice in the coming week and still might suit up for Week 12 (video link).
NOVEMBER 17: After stringing together back-to-back 130-plus-yard performances, Ja’Marr Chase encountered a hip injury. That issue has shut him down for the past three weeks, but the Bengals did not place their No. 1 wide receiver on IR. The team’s decision to go week-to-week here might end up being prudent.
Coming off their bye, the Bengals are not expected to have Chase available. But the defending AFC champions have zeroed in on a Week 12 matchup against the Titans as a point for a Chase relaunch, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com notes. The second-year wideout is rehabbing a hip flexor strain sustained in Week 7.
Had the Bengals placed Chase on IR, he would be shut down through at least Week 13. Hopes of a return in time for a playoff rematch against the Titans represent a positive development here. When word of Chase’s hip injury surfaced, the former No. 5 overall pick did not have a firm timetable and was still seeking out information regarding the issue.
Chase played 28 straight games (counting playoff contests) to start his NFL career, winning Offensive Rookie of the Year honors and zooming toward the top tier at the receiver position. After being held under 100 yards in four straight games, he re-emerged with strong performances against the Saints and Falcons, helping the Bengals to 30-plus-point showings in each contest. Chase’s 86.4 yards per game rank seventh in the league this season.
The Bengals’ offense initially flatlined without its star pass catcher, failing to establish much in a blowout loss to the Browns. But Joe Mixon‘s five-touchdown outing against the Panthers led to a Week 9 bounce-back offering. The Ravens lead the Bengals by a game in the AFC North and hold the head-to-head tiebreaker. The prospect of Chase coming back before December obviously stands to aid the Bengals in their quest to win back-to-back division titles for the first time since the 1981-82 seasons.